Maritza Medina dropped her daughter at school Wednesday morning and never came home.
The 47-year old mother of two crossed paths with a man who had mortally wounded a woman and her daughter, then led police on a wild, two-county chase that ended when he barreled into Medinas Mercedes in the far reaches of Broward County.
The impact was so fierce that Medina was ejected when her sedan spun around and split into pieces, scattering metal upon a field on the edge of the Everglades along U.S. 27 shortly before 10 a.m.
As the smoke cleared and Broward sheriffs deputies arrived, the gunman, Antonio Feliu, 48, fired at least one shot, initiating a tense hourlong standoff with SWAT teams armed with high-powered rifles.
Television stations covered the drama live from helicopters as the law officers surrounded his SUV.
Despite knowing Feliu was armed, one Broward Sheriffs deputy ran out into the open field and dragged Medina out of harms way in the hope that she was still alive.
He certainly put himself in danger to get her to safety, but unfortunately, she had already died, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said afterward.
The standoff ended when SWAT teams launched a 40mm canister at the gunmans rear window, shattering it. They found Feliu slumped behind the wheel, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Felius cross-county trail of terror began about 9:30 a.m. when he shot his estranged girlfriend and then turned the gun on her daughter, killing them both in the efficiency they were renting in the 12300 block of 190th Street in South Miami Heights. Neighbors said they heard three shots about 7:30 a.m., but thought it was fireworks.
His ex-girlfriend, Vivian Gallego Martinez, 51, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 28-year-old daughter, Anabel Benitez, was rushed to Kendall Regional Hospital, where she died.
Homicide detectives are still trying to determine what led to Felius rampage. Records show that Feliu had a litany of traffic infractions and a 2009 arrest for drunken driving. However, there was no history of domestic problems at the address, according to Miami-Dade police.
As police cordoned off the scene, a neighbor recalled seeing Feliu driving the new Mercedes the day before.
He waved at me yesterday when he drove by. Hes waved before, Clinton Woodson said. But few neighbors knew the family well. The mother and daughter have lived in this country for about five years after emigrating from Santa Clara, Cuba.
The victims Facebook pages show them smiling with a newborn infant and fussing over their Yorkshire terrier. Benitez had taken classes at Miami Dade College.
Its just a terrible, terrible tragedy, Israel said at a news conference at the scene of the crash.
Meanwhile, by mid-afternoon, cars had filled the driveway at Medinas home, and family, friends and neighbors struggled with the news.
Her daughter, a high school senior, said she last saw her mother when she dropped her off at school Wednesday morning.
My dad came to school when I was at lunch. He was crying, and I knew something was wrong, the daughter told WSVN Channel 7.
She said she didnt know it would be the last time she saw her mother..
I said goodbye, mom, the daughter said tearfully of their parting Wednesday morning. You never really know when you are going to see her for the last time.