Miami Beach

New witness comes forward publicly in ‘party princess’ hit-and-run case

About a week after self-described “party princess” Karlie Tomica, 20, was charged with DUI manslaughter in a hit-and-run that killed a South Beach chef, another witness has come forward publicly to offer gruesome details about what happened on the morning of the tragedy. And he encourages other witnesses — and there were others, he said — to do the same.

Security guard Roosevelt Johnson Jr., 24, was working at the Shelborne Hotel in South Beach on the night shift. He said he had just finished giving a guest directions to a nearby restaurant when he heard and saw the accident that killed chef Stefano Riccioletti, 49, who worked at the Shore Club.

His account — given earlier to Miami Beach police and now to members of the media — helps answer questions after the tragedy: Was Riccioletti standing in the street? Did he walk into Tomica’s lane?

“No,” Johnson said to both.

“He was not jaywalking,” Johnson said. “He was not standing in the street, or in the car’s path.”

Tomica has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest. The part-time bartender has moved back to her parents’ home in Port St. Lucie. Her next hearing in Miami-Dade court is Wednesday.

Before the sun rose on Jan. 28, Riccioletti was walking at the edge of road construction on Collins Avenue and 18th Street. That’s when Tomica, driving north on Collins and appearing to lose control of her car, swerved and hit him, Johnson said.

Riccioletti was dragged up Collins and landed in the Shelborne’s driveway. That’s where Johnson, who also is a security guard for The Miami Herald, was standing.

Riccioletti bounced three times hard and rolled “like a test dummy,” Johnson said.

Tomica screeched the brakes and slowed down significantly, but never completely stopped, Johnson said. She zoomed off again, and began to be followed by witness Jairo Fuentes.

Johnson ran inside to call 911. He was on the phone with a dispatcher for about a minute, then went back outside to where a police officer had already come to Riccioletti’s side. The officer administered CPR but stopped when he realized it was too late.

“He’s gone,” Johnson recalls the officer saying.

Paramedics arrived and attempted to revive Riccioletti.

Johnson remembers the event clearly because it flashes in his mind so often.

“Half the time, I close my eyes, and it replays,” he said.

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