Miami man charged in fatal switch-seat crash in the Keys

The driver in a fatal crash in Tavernier in May has been jailed on one count each of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence-manslaughter, DUI-serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of an accident; and four counts of DUI-property damage.

Didier Miles, 24, of Miami turned into himself in to the Plantation Key jail and is being held in lieu of $155,000 bond. A warrant for his arrest was issued Tuesday and he was arrested Thursday.

The Florida Highway Patrol says that on the day of the crash, May 13, Kristen Rivera, 22, also of Miami, was driving a 2007 Honda Element north on U.S. 1 with Miles in the passenger seat.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the Element was involved in a minor crash with a man around mile marker 85 by striking his car as Rivera pulled out of U.S. 1 heading north.

They pulled over and when the other driver approached Rivera to get her insurance information, she asked him if he would instead accept money for the damage done to his car. He declined and turned around to get something out of his car.

In that time, troopers say, Rivera and Miles switch seats, so Miles was now driving north in the left-turn lane and struck head-on a Mom's Taxi driven by Charles Akullian, 71, who was traveling south in the right turn lane. That means the Element crossed all the way over the southbound lane.

The Honda came to a rest at a utility pole on the southbound side of the highway. The impact of the crash caused Akullian's engine compartment to catch fire. Emergency responders extinguished the flames. Islamorada Fire-Rescue Department firefighters freed Miles and Rivera from the Honda and an air ambulance helicopter flew them to Ryder, where Rivera died that night.

Chris Argote, Rivera's friend and a fellow waiter at PF Chang's in the Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater, said he was shocked at the accident given Rivera's disapproving attitude toward drunken driving. She had hoped to become a firefighter, Argote said.

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