Reynaldo Aspuro, fast asleep in his Hialeah apartment with his wife and 3-year-old granddaughter, didn’t expect to be jolted out of bed by a real nightmare.
“It sounded like an explosion,” Aspuro, 69, said. “We were scared.”
The source of their rude awakening: a stolen tow truck rushing off from police, speeding out of control and slamming into their apartment building.
The crash happened at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at the Saint Andrews Condo at West 16th Avenue and 44th Place, just two blocks from the building where a mass shooting last week ended with seven people dead.
The Road Ranger truck that hit the building was operated by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. At the wheel: Daniel Lorido, 21. Police say he wasn’t the good Samaritan who comes to the aid of broken-down cars on South Florida highways, but rather a car-jacking suspect who took the truck from the regular driver.
The yard, the back wall, the slide door and the living room were damaged in the crash.
“If he crashed into the main entrance, we could have died,” Aspuro said.
The couple live alone but were taking care of one of their five grandchildren Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
After the boom, his wife, Maria, took the child and hid in the bathroom. “We were afraid someone had a gun,” he said.
When police arrived, the family was safely escorted out of the condo.
Wednesday’s saga began when on NW 31st Street and 42nd Avenue when police received a call about a carjacking of a Road Ranger truck. Hialeah police pursued the truck when it entered city limits.
“They saw the vehicle and tried to stop the driver for speeding, but they didn’t know the vehicle was stolen,” said Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby.
After the truck hit the building, Hialeah firefighters freed the trapped suspect with the “jaws of life.” Lorido was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was released, charged with carjacking and taken to Miami-Dade jail.
The legitimate driver of the Road Ranger was not hurt in the carjacking, said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Sanchez.
Meanwhile, the cleanup continues for the residents of the Saint Andrews condo.
The gate, lamps, tables and windows were broken. The tow truck tires were still in the grass Wednesday afternoon.
Said neighbor Aida Ramos: “You are not safe, even on the sidewalk.”