MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Fort Lauderdale man killed in a wrong way crash while driving his motorcycle on I-95 this weekend is being remembered as a generous person who loved his motorcycle and taught others about motorcycle safety.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Norman Mello, 41, was hit head-on by Carissa Vargas, 20, who was driving a 2013 Acura.
Investigators said Vargas was heading north in the southbound lanes of I-95 just north of the Dolphin Expressway on Saturday around 7:30 pm.
Mello’s friend, Michael Aronow, is in disbelief that his longtime riding pal is gone.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Aronow told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “He’s one of a kind. He was more than a friend. He was definitely like a brother to myself and to probably hundreds of other people.”
Aronow said Mello was passionate about his motorcycle, his dog Diamond, boats and, most of all, his friends.
“He would do anything for you,” Aronow said. “There’s not a lot of people like that these days that’ll just drop everything for you and he would definitely be there for you.”
In the accident, FHP said Carlos Pereira, 61, who was driving a Dodge Ram in the same lane as Vargas, but heading south, spotted Vargas’ car and swerved to try to avoid a head-on-collision.
However, FHP said Pereira ended up getting sideswiped on the left side by Vargas’ car.
Investigators said Mello came through the windshield of Vargas’ car and was pinned into the back seat of Vargas’ car.
Crews later pronounced Mello dead at the scene. Pereira suffered minor injuries in the crash.
The crash shut down part of Interstate 95 leaving drivers in traffic for several hours.
Vargas remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Investigators said they are waiting for her blood test results to see if she had alcohol in her system at the time of the crash.
Aronow said Mello was part of a large group that loved to ride their motorcycles and that he was a stickler for teaching others about riding safely.
“He was the most careful,” Aronow said. “He was the biggest on safety and riding correctly and not doing the things you shouldn’t do on a motorcycle because they’re dangerous.”
Mello’s friends and pictures on his Facebook page attest to his desire to remember those who died on South Florida roadways and how Mello worked to keep their memorials pristine.
Aronow said Mello would want people to remember that no matter what you drive, safety on the roads is most important.
“You have to share the road, you have to get off your phone while you’re driving, no texting while driving,” Aronow said. “You have to be aware of everything around you.”
Mello’s friends and family are organizing a memorial motorcycle ride to Mello on Friday night.
Riders will gather at the Tower Shops in Davie for a weekly car show that Mello where was a fixture and ride to Fort Lauderdale Beach — a ride Aronow said Mello and his friends made more times than they can count.