MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Charges have been filed against a man accused of causing a wrong way wreck on I-95 last year which left one woman dead and seriously injured two of her family members.
Franklin Chavez, 23, is facing three counts including vehicular homicide and manslaughter while driving under the influence.
In a telephone interview from his New Jersey home, Noel Criales, the father of the victim, Carmen Criales, said “My daughter meant a lot to me.”
He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I believe in justice. I’m very proud of the system. I was waiting for this good news.”
He also said “This accident should have never happened. This man was going the wrong way and he hit my daughter.”
On December 13th, Chavez was reportedly driving south in the northbound lanes of I-95 around 5 a.m. when he slammed head on into a Honda Civic near S.W. 8th Street.
Criales, who was 23, was driving the Honda Civic and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Her two passengers, her brother Bryan Criales, 22, and her mother Elisa Diaz, 48, were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital as was Chavez.
Noel Criales, Carmen’s father, said his daughter was heading to Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on a trip to New Jersey for medical school orientation.
After being treated at the hospital, Diaz made a full recovery while Carmen’s brother Bryan, 22, is still dealing with severe brain trauma.
FHP trooper Joe Sanchez told D’Oench that FHP needed time to do a thorough investigation.
“We had to get witnesses,” he said. “We needed to send out test results. We had to inspect vehicles and check DNA. We have so many cases where people’s lives are destroyed and that is our passion, to make sure this doesn’t happen, that families’ lives are not destroyed based on the careless acts of individuals such as Mr. Chavez.”
During a court hearing Tuesday, bond for Chavez was set at $32,500.
Chavez’s attorney told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer that there was “no indication of impairment” when Chavez was checked at the scene. And he noted that Chavez’s blood alcohol level was .046, below the legal level of intoxication of .08.
But a Prosecutor said that was “hours and hours after the crash” and she said it was the “state’s position that his BAC was well over at the time of impact and that coupled with the driving pattern was sufficient.”
Braxton also said Chavez has been fully cooperative with police, had no prior arrests and was not a flight risk. Judge Glazer ordered Chavez not to drink or drive.
Chavez told FHP investigators that he had been at a gathering it’s friends prior to the accident but he did not recall where he was or if he had been drinking.
Chavez’s other defense attorney Andrew Parks said Chavez is presumed innocent and said he will fight the charges against him.