Takesha Shawanna Hayes rolled her motorized wheelchair over a Little Haiti curb early Sunday and tried to cross the street. Family members said she was on the way to the store.
For what, they don’t know. She never made it
Before the 39-year-old mother of two was able to get to the next curb on Northwest 54th Street at Fourth Avenue, a vehicle smashed into her, leaving Hayes dead by the side of the road and her wheelchair crumpled nearby. The driver took off and hasn’t been found.
Hayes’ death continues a disturbing trend in Miami-Dade County: Sunday’s incident marked at least the fourth time in the past two weeks that the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in serious injury or death has fled. None of the crimes have been solved. None of the drivers have turned themselves in. Two of the victims have died.
“This is happening way too often,” Miami police Detective Kenia Fallat said. “Had the person stayed on the scene it would have just been an accident.” Now, Fallat said, charges including fleeing the scene of an accident will be added to offenders who are captured.
Fallat said police are looking for a 2011-14 Ford Explorer SUV based on a short surveillance video from a nearby store. Speed was a factor, she said.
Family members who live in a home five blocks from where Hayes was killed Sunday say Hayes was sitting outside on the patio with friends at 2:30 a.m. when she motored up her wheelchair and headed for a store on 54th Street.
At the place Hayes wheeled off the sidewalk, there was no crosswalk and no traffic light.
Her 17-year-old daughter, Najee, described her mom as a happy-go-lucky woman who liked to listen to music and play cards and board games with her two daughters, and who often spent nights at a friend’s home a few blocks away. Najee Hayes said nearly two dozen people piled into the family’s home on Thanksgiving to feast on her mother’s cooking.
Relatives, at first, weren’t worried at first when Hayes didn’t return home.
Najee said when her mom did not return Sunday morning after heading to the store, she went to bed. It wasn’t until later in the morning that she learned Hayes was dead.
“She was my best friend,” Najee Hayes said. As for the person who struck her mom and fled, “I have nothing to say to that person,” she said.
Hayes and her mom’s sister Kendra Broomfield said Hayes suffered a series of mini-strokes about six months ago and was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that damages nerve cells in the brain and deteriorates motor function. She soon got an electric wheelchair and shuttled between doctors with the help of public transportation.
Besides Najee, Hayes leaves a 6-year-old daughter, Savior Scott. The family is working out plans for a funeral service. In the meantime, anyone wishing to donate to help the family or with funeral costs can go to the website GoFundMe.com, and look up Takesha Hayes.
Hayes’ hit-and-run was the second within a week that claimed a life, and the fourth in the past two weeks. The two others, which both resulted in serious injury, took place in Miami. The victims are recovering.
The fist incident happened two weeks ago, when a 50-year-old woman and her husband were crossing Northwest 79th Street at Second Court. Witnesses told police that a white or silver Honda CRV slammed into the woman. She was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition. After the initial impact, the woman was hit by a second car, though that driver stayed put. Police are still looking for a Honda with what they say is noticeable damage on its front end.
Then two more incidents happened a day apart, one in Miami, the other in deep Southwest Miami-Dade. The first of those two crashes, on Feb. 15, hit home for Miami police when one of their own was badly injured while riding his personal motorcycle.
Miami police Sgt. Marvin Sanders, who was off-duty at the time, was driving his motorcycle south on Northwest 15th Avenue at 62nd Street just after dark when a car turning through the intersection rammed into him. The crash broke several bones and he had surgery on a leg.
Sanders told a TV news crew that after he was knocked to the ground, the driver of the car “basically ... paused for a second by my bike, and he just drove off and left me there to die.” Police are still looking for a white sedan or older model Chevrolet Caprice.
Then a day later, on Feb. 16, Jose Rubio-Perez was struck and killed while riding his bicycle at 6:45 a.m. near the corner of Southwest 216th Street and 169th Avenue. Police are still looking for the metallic gray Dodge Ram truck that slammed into him. The driver sped off. The truck, police said, has damage to its right front headlight.