Hialeah

Newly elected school board member Susie Castillo lashes out at Hialeah cops over daughter’s death

 

School Board member Susie Castillo wants the Hialeah police department to turn over its investigation of a crash that killed her daughter and involved on of the city’s police officers.

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

Susie Castillo hoped for a miracle, but none would come.

It was time to unplug the machines keeping her daughter artificially breathing. Just days after Andrea Castillo had celebrated her 21st birthday, she was brain dead — killed in a car crash involving a Hialeah police detective.

“As a Christian, you hope for a miracle from God, and, truthfully, I was waiting to the last minute,” Castillo said.

On Wednesday, a red-eyed Castillo, a newly-elected school board member, pleaded at a news conference for the Hialeah Police Department to hand over its investigation of the crash that claimed her daughter’s life and lashed out at the department’s handling of the case.

“There have been numerous emails and letters asking for information, and there has been nothing from the Hialeah Police Department,” she said. “That’s why, as a mother and as a citizen, I am demanding an independent investigation from an independent agency.

What happened to her shouldn’t be unanswered. I need to know.”

Andrea Castillo died of her injuries after a late-night crash on Oct. 19, when the black Jeep Compass her boyfriend, Marco Barrios, was driving crossed paths with the unmarked police car of Hialeah police Detective Raul Somarriba.

“She had just been accepted to FIU to start her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. More than anything else, what she wanted was to become a teacher,” said Castillo, formerly assistant to Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez. “Her whole future was ahead of her.”

Hialeah police have blamed the cause of the deadly crash on 23-year-old Barrios, saying he ran a stop sign. Department spokesman Carl Zogby said the couple wasn’t wearing seatbelts and that the detective wasn’t speeding when his unmarked police car slammed into them.

Lawyers for the couple’s families — and now, Andrea Castillo’s mother — have disputed those claims.

Attorney John Leighton, who is representing Barrios, said that police have “intimidated” business owners with shops near the crash site into not sharing surveillance video from before the crash — tapes which Leighton says will show Barrios came to a stop like he was supposed to.

Susie Castillo said she saw bruises on her daughter’s body that suggest she was wearing a seatbelt. Leighton has released photos showing bruises across his client’s shoulder and pointed out that his left clavicle is fractured. He also suffered a pelvis fracture, head injuries and internal bleeding. Barrios is recovering at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial.

And lawyers for both families say skid marks and witnesses at the scene suggest Somarriba, who fractured his leg and arm and suffered head injuries in the crash, was speeding.

Hialeah police officials didn’t return calls for comment.

Susie Castillo said her younger son has had a hard time dealing with the death of his big sister. Castillo said her focus remains on her family at the moment. But she plans on taking her spot on the school board in November representing District 5, which encompasses areas of Northwest Miami-Dade such as Hialeah.

“My daughter was such a big part of my campaign, and she gave so much of her time and her love for this. Like I said, she was going to be a teacher. So I think that’s something I have to go forward with, for her,” she said.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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