A 23-year-old woman driving the wrong way on northbound I-95 early Wednesday crashed head-on into a sedan near Miami Gardens Drive, killing herself and four people in the car she struck, police said.
The California woman, who was identified as Alexandra Lefler, was driving south in the northbound express lanes in a white 2001 Ford pickup truck around 12:45 a.m. when she sideswiped a Chevy Cobalt driven by Katherine Warsch, 27, of Hollywood. The Cobalt then smashed into the concrete median.
Then the pickup crashed head-on into a 2013 Hyundai Sonata carrying four people, all of whom were pronounced dead at the scene. Florida Highway Patrol identified the victims as:
▪ Miguel Gil, 47, of Cooper City, who was driving;
▪ Gisela Gil-Egui, 48, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, sister of Miguel;
▪ Gisela Margarita Egui Hernandez, 71, of Venezuela, mother of Miguel and Gisela;
▪ Jose Martin Labrado, 52, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, husband of Gisela.
According to FHP, both women were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from the vehicle.
After the violent collision, the pickup spun onto its side and stopped in the inside express lane, and a Kia Optima rear-ended the Sonata. The Optima, driven by 58-year-old Nameer Khattab, veered into the general traffic lanes, where it was clipped by another vehicle.
Warsch and Khattab were both taken to local hospitals with minor injuries.
Gil-Egui was a communications professor at Fairfield University, a private Jesuit school in Connecticut. Her husband, Labrado, worked at Housatonic Community College. They had flown in to visit family.
In a statement to the Miami Herald, university president Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx said Gil-Egui was a beloved member of the faculty and community.
“Dr. Gil-Egui was a delightful friend, an enthusiastic and inspiring colleague, and an accomplished academic, receiving her B.A. from Universidad Central de Venezuela, and her M.A. and Ph.D from Temple University,” he said. “As an Associate Professor of Communication at Fairfield University, she taught courses focusing on globalization of mass media and information, mass media and society and other subjects, she assisted her students on their thesis proposals and research, and was an avid and inspiring faculty collaborator in a number of other projects and committees.”
Wednesday’s accident marked the second wrong-way crash on the interstate — one of the busiest in Florida — in recent weeks. On Dec. 13, a blue Toyota driven by 24-year-old Franklin Chavez was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes on I-95 near Southwest Eighth Street when it collided with a Honda Civic driven by 23-year-old Carmen Criales. Criales was pronounced dead at the scene.