MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An arrest has been made after a driver struck a 65-year-old man sitting at a Miami bus stop and then sped off. The accident was captured on surveillance tape from a nearby supermarket.
The victim’s friends are outraged.
Kevin Whitehurst tells CBS4’S Peter D’Oench “I feel extremely disturbed that this homeless man was hit and not only that, the driver sped away. This is just an example of how when a driver sees something and panics, he or she takes off. You should stay at the scene. This is something that happens far too much in South Florida.”
Witnesses told police the driver of a black Lexus, later identified as 36-year-old Rodrigo Delatorre, jumped a curb at NW 7th Avenue and NW 58th Street and struck a man sitting on a bus bench. The 65-year-old man who has not been identified suffered a broken pelvis and a laceration to his liver. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Several witnesses followed the Lexus to NW 6th Street and NW 54th Court where it stopped. They alerted the police who took Delatorre into custody.
“One thing I am grateful about is that the community pulled together and some people followed this driver and contacted police. Thank God this guy survived,” said Whitehurst. We could have been here talking about something much different.”
A search of Delatorre’s car uncovered a whip cream dispenser and more than 110 N20 (nitrous oxide) whippet cartridges, some had been used, according to the arrest report. Nitrous oxide is an inhalant that can lead to a high.
In bond court, a prosecutor said “This defendant is on probation for drug charges out of Gilchrist County” and she said Delatorre was on probation until 2022.
A check of records shows he also has an extensive rap sheet. He has been arrested for speeding, disorderly conduct, burglary, domestic battery, cocaine possession and leaving the scene of an accident.
During questioning, Delatorre reportedly told police he was reaching for his phone which had fallen to the floor when he felt his car hit the curb and hit something. He said looked back but didn’t see a car or glass, just a tree.
“This is a person, not an animal,” said Whitehurst. Once you know you have hit someone and you are distracted you have to stop an render aid immediately. This driver should come back and apologize to that victim and say I was distracted and I apologize to you.”
Ahmed Elsayed, a manager of the West Coast Market, said, “Even though this man, the victim was homeless, he is a hard worker. He often comes here to clean outside my store. He is a good person. I feel bad about what happened. He comes to work here every day and night.”
Delatorre was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious injury and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage.
In bond court, a Judge set bond at $50,000. After he posts that bond, he will be on house arrest and will not be allowed to drive.