A horrific rollover wreck on Alligator Alley that left one dead, more than a dozen people injured and stalled traffic for hours was caused by an impaired driver, the Florida Highway Patrol said Wednesday.
Nisbany Surit Garcias, 30, was arrested late Tuesday and face charges including vehicular homicide and DUI causing death. He was being held Wednesday in Broward’s main jail with no bond.
Surit Garcias was behind the wheel of an Ford F-150 truck when he veered out of his lane and hit the side of a 15-passenger van, sending both vehicles into the grassy median, according to FHP. The crash happened near Mile Marker 41 outside of Fort Lauderdale at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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The van, carrying several families from Minnesota, rolled several times, ejecting at least one person. Lauren Vanreese, 21, died in the median, FHP said Wednesday. Almost everyone else in the packed van, FHP said, suffered serious injuries.
The victims were identified by FHP as: Steven Wienhold, 42, who was driving; Paul White, 49; Mark Steuart, 68; Barbara Steuart, 69; Rachel Kerr, 45; Justin Kerr, 14; Ryan Kerr, 11; Laura Wienhold, 43; Brynn Wienhold, 12; Blake Wienhold, 10; Brook Wienhold, 4; Kimberly Vanreese, 50; Katie Topitshoper, 19; and Gabriella Rooney, 19.
On Wednesday, FHP released Surit Garcias’ arrest report.
A trooper wrote “based on the crash scene and numerous witness statements, there was reason to believe the driver of one of the vehicles (vehicle 1), may have been impaired.”
“According to witnesses, the vehicle was driving recklessly, nearly causing crashes as it traveled southbound on I-75 near mile marker 79,” the trooper wrote.
Witnesses also told troopers that the driver of the pickup truck appeared “impaired and smelling of alcoholic beverage.”
A trooper met Surit Garcias at Broward Health Medical Center, where he was taken with minor injuries. The trooper asked for backup after learning that Surit Gracias only spoke Spanish.
“While waiting for her to arrive, I was able to observe that his speech was slurred/mumbled, his eyes were heavily bloodshot and watery and there was a distinct and strong smell of alcoholic beverage coming from him as he spoke to me,” the trooper wrote. The trooper went on to say that his injuries were consistent with him being the driver.
Surit Garcias agreed to give a “voluntary blood sample,” the trooper said, but wouldn’t sign paperwork. The hospital, however, drew blood “for medical purposes and lab testing,” the trooper said.
“Furthermore, I was advised that his medical blood was tested for ethanol and had a reading of .182 at the time they drew it and it was tested,” the trooper wrote.
The reading is more than twice the legal limit of .008.
According the report, Surit Garcias was then medically cleared and asked to perform field-sobriety tests. In one of the tests, the one-leg stand, the trooper said Surit Gracias “swayed while balancing.”
“Based on the totality of the circumstances,” the trooper said, Surit Garcias was arrested.