HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – A 73-year-old man who is accused of leaving the scene of an accident in Homestead on Saturday afternoon that caused a mother’s death is speaking out, saying that he was sorry and took off because he was “nervous.”
“I feel real bad. I have been crying. I have been crying all day,” said Miguel Adolfo Melendez Ortiz in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “I’m sorry. I am real, real sorry. I got that inside my heart because she died, I got that inside my heart. I got that inside my heart.”
Homestead Police said the accident happened just after 2 p.m. on Saturday at Waterstone Plaza off SW 137th Ave. near SW 288th St.
A police report says Ortiz was traveling northbound and turning left into the Plaza in his 2004 Grey Jeep and 48-year-old Reina Castaneda, who was traveling southbound, was forced to take evasive action.
Police say Ortiz struck two motorcycles that Castaneda and her husband were on.
Castaneda, who was a mother of three children, was taken to Jackson South Community hospital but did not survive. Her husband suffered minor injuries.
Police say witnesses helped them find Ortiz a few blocks away. A police report revealed that Ortiz saw Castaneda on the ground and stopped his vehicle and got out. He then reportedly got back into his Jeep and drove to a Subway restaurant at the plaza and ordered subs.
Ortiz said he did not remember the details of the accident and how it happened.
He is charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and leaving the scene of an accident with a death.
“Why did you leave the scene?” D’Oench asked Ortiz.
“I was real nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Ortiz was also asked why he went to the Subway restaurant.
Ortiz said, “I left because I wanted to buy a couple of sandwiches. I was sad and I came back the same way and I saw a police car.”
While Ortiz said he was “sorry,” he did not say he was responsible for the accident and on two occasions said “she hit me.”
Police say the accident is still under investigation.
On Saturday, Det. Fernando Morales said, “One thing I’d like to stress is this happens way too often. People get involved in accidents and flee the scene. And if they had stayed on the scene, they would have gotten a small citation.”
Ortiz said he has hired an attorney.
If convicted of leaving the scene of an accident with a death, he could be sentenced to anywhere between four and 30 years in prison.
A check of records show he has received just one traffic infraction before and that case was closed.