Lily-Marie Azarcon was in the United States on business, having come from the Philippines through California and Las Vegas to Miami — to see the Heat play.
Dennis Ryan Riñon Ortiz was her colleague, a California-based international sales director at Alveo Land Corp., headquartered in Manila.
U.S. Navy petty officer 2nd class Albertson Anthony Almase was in transition from a base in Japan to another in Virginia.
His sister, Kristina Angela Almase, was a nurse who’d attended a seminar in Fort Lauderdale. A single mother, she was pondering her future.
The four young adults, with strong ties to the Philippines, met up in South Florida to have some fun. But Wednesday morning, their lives ended in a catastrophic wreck on Interstate 95.
Willie Dumel, 25, who has a long criminal record, was fleeing Opa-locka police about 1 a.m. in a Chevy Suburban, northbound in the southbound lanes near Ives Dairy Road, when he plowed into the Kia Sorento that Ortiz was driving.
The four died at the scene of “blunt force trauma,’’ according to Larry Cameron, operations director at Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
Dumel, who broke both legs, was arrested.
Friday afternoon, the four bodies remained at the Medical Examiner’s Office.
“We’re simply waiting for the families to make arrangements with funeral homes,’’ Cameron said, adding that autopsies on all four were completed Wednesday.
He didn’t know if the driver and passengers wore seat belts, but noted that “in high-velocity crashes, no matter what safety features there are, you won’t be able to preserve life.’’
As loved ones made their way to Miami to claim the victims’ remains, Caesar Almase, a Las Vegas lawyer and uncle of Kristina and Albertson, asked in an email to The Miami Herald that the privacy of a “very private family’’ be respected.
“We, their family, are very upset about this tragedy,’’ he wrote.
“Their parents and sister are grief-stricken. They touched many lives in the short time they lived and will be missed by all who knew them. Albertson and Kristina were the best of us.’’
Kristina, known as Tina, was 26, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter. A U.S. citizen, she lived until March in Cebu City, the fifth-largest city in the Philippines.
On her Facebook page, Almase wrote that she had gotten married Dec. 29, 2012. In online postings, her brother’s friends wrote that she was engaged to a U.S. sailor.
Almase had been at a seminar, according to The Pulp blog, which printed an email to New Times from Giane Zosa Ebias, identified as Kristina’s “best friend.’’
Almase was “planning to go back to school again,’’ Ebias wrote. “We graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2011.
“Tina was the perfect mom, friend, daughter, and sister. She’s the youngest among three siblings. A single mom. She was the only one who stayed in the Philippines because she wanted to take care of her dad, a retired Navy Seal. She has a daughter named Kirsten, whom she loves and cares for so much. Awhile ago her daughter wanted to speak to Tina through Skype, all we could do was just turn around and cry and told Kirsten that mommy was still busy.
“Tina was a happy person. She would hide every problem that she had just for others to be happy. She puts her family first. She made responsibilities a habit. She’s a true friend. She was a sister to me.
“She went to Florida to think things out on what she wanted to do in life. She realized she wanted to go back to school to study dentistry or a different medical course. It’s very difficult for her dad. He lost a daughter and a son on the same day.”
In 2011, Kristina had been in touch with a Navy recruiter to get information about becoming a Navy nurse.
Two friends in the Philippines posted memorial messages on her page: “Heaven welcomes u back but we here are missing u loads…,’’ and, “You are now in the hands of our Almighty Father. Rest in peace.’’
Older brother, Albertson, 31, was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back, fellow sailors said.
In a comment on the Herald’s website, shipmate Daniel Ramsey, stationed in Japan, wrote that Albertson was “a kind and caring person, a true Shipmate. May he, his sister (who was engaged to another former Shipmate), and the other two souls Rest in Peace. And the scum that stole them from this world ROT IN HELL!’’
Ortiz, 33, was international sales director ( U.S. territory ) for Alveo Land and Ayala Land Company, also owner/operations manager at Shakes Venue Gourmet & Health, in Manila.
He held degrees from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Golden Gate University, and Centro Escolar University.
Azarcon, usually called Marie, was in sales for Alveo. Like Kristina, she was 26 and a mother.
She lived in Manila with 8-year-old Katelyn, her grandmother, an uncle and a nephew, said Robert Abrahamsen, a business partner of the victim’s uncle, Dr. Constantine Azarcon, in Delaware.
Abrahamsen said Azarcon had three sisters, a father in New Jersey who’s a U.S. citizen, and a mother in New Zealand.
She was a born-again Christian, he said, and “a lot of fun.”