BROWARD COUNTY

Miami-Dade man in wrong-way crash that killed 4 was on drugs, tests show

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

The Miami-Dade man accused of killing four California tourists in a horrific wrong-way car crash on Interstate 95 tested positive for marijuana and cocaine, newly released evidence shows.

Prosecutors released Willie Dumel’s toxicology report five months after he allegedly zoomed up the off-ramp while being pursued by an Opa-locka police officer trying to pull him over for a traffic infraction.

Dumel, who suffered broken legs in the crash, is jailed while awaiting trial on four counts of manslaughter and other felonies. So far, Dumel has not been charged with driving under the influence.

The toxicology report, completed by a lab at the University of Miami, showed Dumel’s blood tested positive for the active ingredients in cocaine and marijuana, as well as morphine — which likely was administered at the hospital following the crash.

Dumel’s defense attorney, Andrew Rier, said the toxicology report only shows he had ingested drugs sometime in the days before the crash.

“There is no way for the state to know exactly if they influenced his ability to drive at the time of the accident,” Rier said.

The fiery wreck has drawn scrutiny on Opa-locka police and led to a lawsuit against the department and the officer, Sergio Perez, filed by relatives of the dead tourists.

“If you have someone on drugs, and potentially driving erratically, that’s all the more reason you don’t chase them the wrong way up the entrance of the 95,” said Miami lawyer Edward Blumberg, who is suing Opa-locka police on behalf of two of the victims.

On April 3, Perez — driving a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban — spied Dumel making an apparent illegal right turn at Northwest 143rd Street and 22nd Avenue. According to state troopers, Dumel led him on a high-speed chase, eventually speeding the wrong way on the exit ramp onto the interstate at Ives Dairy Road.

Perez later told his superiors that he broke off the pursuit, although audio from police radio transmissions appears to contradict the claim.

“This guy is all over the road,” Perez told dispatchers, his siren audible in the background. “Now he’s going against traffic on I-95. We’re going northbound in the southbound lanes.”

Dumel plowed into a rental SUV driving south. Killed were Lily-Marie Azarcon, 26, who worked for a Philippines-based real estate developer; her colleague Dennis Ryan Riñon Ortiz, 33; U.S. Navy petty officer 2nd class Albertson Anthony Almase, 31, and his sister, Kristina Angela Almase, 26, a nurse.

The two women were single mothers.

The family of Alberston Almase and Kristina Almase last month filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Miami-Dade against Dumel; the owner of the Suburban, Rodney Barlatier; Opa-locka police and Perez himself.

Perez, according to Opa-locka spokesman David Chiverton, remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the officer’s actions.

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