Dried blood marked the spot Thursday where an out-of-control Porsche hopped a curb, plowed through the bushes and mowed down two men in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The 22-year old woman who was behind the wheel — Alyza Rachel Russell — may have been under the influence “of some substance,” Fort Lauderdale police said.
Russell has not been arrested in the men’s deaths, pending results of a toxicology report which could take six to eight weeks, said police spokeswoman DeAnna Greenlaw. Police obtained a search warrant to draw blood in order to test for alcohol and other substances.
Russell was heading west on Broward Boulevard when she lost control of the car at Southwest Fifth Avenue, near the Museum of Science and the Fort Lauderdale Performing Arts Center, police say.
“It was like a scene out of a movie,” said Michael Lacey, who saw the crash unfold as he sat in the parking lot on a curb just after 2 a.m. “I heard a screech and a loud crash.”
Lacey said it looked like Russell was trying to turn onto Southwest Fifth Avenue, but missed, and sailed through two palm trees and shrubbery before hitting the men, who may have been homeless. Their names have not been released pending notification to next of kin.
The first man, who was sitting on the curb “never saw it coming,” Lacey said.
The car kept going and hit the second man, who was standing with his bicycle. His body was dragged by the car through the parking lot.
“It looked like [Russell] was trying to get away,” Lacey said, saying he could see the tires spinning even though at least one was flat. “The guy was all wrapped up in the wheel. She had to be messed up on something.”
Two passengers were inside the maroon Porsche Panamera, according to police, but their names will not be released until the case is closed because they are part of the investigation, said Greenlaw.
Red light cameras on Broward Boulevard may have captured the accident, but Greenlaw said all video obtained will not be released until after the investigation is completed.
Byron Campbell, who was in his work truck across the street in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven told WFOR-CBS 4 that the car was going “at a high rate of speed.”
“For whatever reason they were going so fast,” Campbell said. “It never had to happen.”
Campbell said he immediately knew something bad happened and he called 911.
“I knew people were over there. [The homeless] sleep over there all the time,” he told the news channel.
According to court records, Russell was charged with driving without a license and driving without lights in June 2012. At the time she was driving a 2009 Porsche. She plead no contest to the charge and adjudication was withheld, records show.
According to Russell’s Facebook page, which was taken down mid-Thursday, she studied international relations at American University in Washington, D.C., and attended Leysin American School in Leysin, Switzerland. She works for Interiors by Steven G. in Fort Lauderdale, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Thursday morning’s fatal accident is reminiscent of a driving fatality that took place on Miami Beach in January.
Karlie Tomica, 20, was on her way home from a bartending shift at Nikki Beach in Miami Beach when she struck and killed popular chef Stefano Riccioletti. Tomica left the scene and a good Samaritan followed her home.
A toxicology report showed that her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. She was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death, DUI manslaughter, DUI/property damage and resisting an officer without violence.
She is on house arrest, pending trial.