FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The family of a teenage bicyclist, struck and killed by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper is speaking out about their loss.
“He was an amazing kid, an amazing young man. He was more than just my son, he was my best friend,” said a tearful Norberto Lopez, father of Angel Lopez at a news conference Tuesday morning.
Angel’s father said he and his son had a relationship built on mutual love and respect. He said his son was a volunteer who worked to raise awareness of Autism and lupus.
“He’s just my kid, beyond his years to be honest,” the father said. “He would impress me with knowledge that I didn’t even know.”
But all of that was lost Friday night when Angel, a 17-year-old Killian High school student, was killed when he tried to cross busy Killian Parkway on his bicycle and darted into the path of an FHP trooper near Southwest 108th Avenue, according to FHP.
Security video from a nearby business makes it appear Lopez had gotten off a Metrobus with his bike, and had begun to ride south across Killian Parkway. The teen was crossing in the middle of the block, and did not have a crosswalk or stop light to assist him.
One car narrowly misses hitting him, but the trooper’s patrol car collided with him causing front end damage to the squad car and its windshield to be smashed in.
Angel died on the scene.
The Trooper was identified as Aliek Sierra, a 9-year veteran. He was not hurt.
The family’s attorney vows a thorough investigation of the fatal accident.
“We are here to ensure that there is an honest and accurate investigation into the events that occurred on Friday of this past weekend,” said attorney Josiah Graham, of the Fort Lauderdale firm Kelly Uustal.
Graham said he and his co-counsel, Todd Falzone, don’t trust the FHP to answer questions about whether the trooper was speeding, or distracted, or whether he hit his brakes before hitting the teen.
Falzone asked for anyone who may have witnessed the accident or the trooper’s driving prior to it to come forward.
The attorneys said security camera videos from nearby businesses will be used in their analysis. A video obtained by CBS4 News appears to show the trooper’s car hit the bicyclist without slowing.
As the attorneys begin investigating, the family mourns the loss of a teen, an ROTC member, who had hoped to follow in the steps of his dad, a Vet who served two tours in Iraq and remains a reservist.
An FHP spokesman says the department is going to conduct a no-holds barred thorough investigation of the fatal accident. If the trooper contributed to the accident in any way, whether it was speed, distraction, or something else, that will be learned and disclosed, said the department’s Lt. Alex Camacho
The Lopez family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his funeral.