MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The normal camaraderie between members of the Everglades Bicycling Club took on a somber tone Thursday with a moment of silence for one of their cycling brothers.
“For us as a community, it’s important for us to come together and show we’re still going to be out here,” said cyclist Alex Figueiredo.
On Thursday the group rode from Coral Gables to Key Biscayne in honor of 51-year-old Walter Reyes who was struck and killed as he rode on the Rickenbacker Causeway Wednesday morning.
Reyes’ name has also been added to a makeshift memorial by the Bear Cut bridge that features a white bicycle. A “ghost bike” was attached to it along with the names of other cyclists who have lost their lives on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Forty-year-old Henry Hernandez, hurt in the accident Wednesday, was also on the group’s mind.
“We had a terrible tragedy again on the Key that’s impacted us a lot. So we wanted to ride today, more people are joining us than usual, in solidarity and support of Walt’s family and for our friend Henry who often rode on this ride,” said cyclist Maria Boza.
In connection to the causeway accident on Wednesday, 21-year old Alejandro Alvarez was arrested and is facing multiple charges, including leaving the scene of a crash involving death and DUI manslaughter.
Police said Alvarez slammed into the two cyclists early morning Wednesday near Virginia Beach Drive, near the 6000 block of Crandon Boulevard at about 5:22 a.m.
According to the arrest affidavit, Alvarez was driving to his parent’s Key Biscayne home after a night at a Miami Beach club when he hit the cyclists.
The report states he originally left the scene, but returned twenty minutes later and told an officer, “It was me. I was the one that was involved in the accident. I was scared and I fled. I drove down to Harbor Drive, parked my vehicle and called my mother.”
The cop said Alvarez was “hysterically crying.”
The affidavit goes on to say he even told police he “attempted to fake a robbery by smashing the rear window of his Volkswagen with golf clubs” but couldn’t go through with it.
He eventually said he was changing the song on his iPhone and wasn’t looking at the road at the time of the crash.
Reyes, according to family members, was training for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge, a ride where the money raised is donated to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami to tackle cancer.
Reyes’ daughter Jennifer was wearing her Dolphins Cycling Challenge shirt with pride Wednesday night during an interview with CBS4.
“I want him to be remembered as a good man who is just trying to do his part,” she said. “This is my father. I love him very much. And he will always be in my heart.”
“He was a good man,” she said. “He influenced a lot of people at work about the Bicycle Challenge and he got so many people to join him. He spent a lot of time riding his bike. As you can see he was up early in the morning before work. He would get up, shower, got out and take a ride. He wanted to be strong and healthy just to show how important it was to help people.”
She went on to say, “It is going to be hard but we will always have him with us and he would want us to keep going.”
Mike Pappas, a friend of Reyes and the CEO at the Keyes Realty Group where Reyes was the CFO, said he was a kind, passionate person, “who loved his family, loved his employees had a real heart and kindness for people. He will be sorely missed.”
Reyes’s death adds to the number of cyclist killed doing what they love On January 17, 2010 Christophe LeCanne was struck and killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway by hit and run driver who later plead guilty to DUI manslaughter and is now facing 12 years in prison.
In February 2012, Aaron Cohen was riding along the causeway with his friend when a hit-and-run driver slammed into them. Cohen was killed and the driver was found guilty and charged with Cohen’s death.
The cycling community’s rally cry for change has only grown louder.
“We just need action,” said Bernard Zyscovich. “Just take some action and let’s argue about the nuances of the plan later. Let’s get some lane separation and let’s get safety put in place.”
Police say Alvarez is a student at the University of Maryland.
CBS4 spoke to a campus official on the phone Wednesday who told us students are still on winter break.
It’s not clear whether Alvarez will be returning.
Thursday morning, Alvarez bonded out of jail. Three corrections officers said he was given special treatment to avoid media cameras.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench stopped at Alvarez’s family home on Key Biscayne. No one answered the door when he knocked. Flowers had been delivered to his home. A note that was attached said they were for the Alvarez family.