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A tragic end: Driver’s car sails into nursing home

Five days after filing for divorce, Enrique Linares was out for the night. He was heading to a friend , driving his red Honda a bit too fast in the dark hours of the early morning.

Just before 2 a.m., Linares, barreling down West Dixie Highway at 85 mph, took a curve.

It cost him his life Wednesday. His red Honda went through a fence, launched off a curb and crashed into a North Miami Beach nursing home between the first and second floors.

Linares’ friend lives just around the corner from the Watercrest Care Center at Northeast 166th Street. He went to see what happened when he heard the police sirens.

He found his friend’s red Honda Prelude sticking out the side of the building. He knew who was inside.

Linares died on impact. He was 28.

His wife, Carolina Linares, 25, arrived shortly after and collapsed in tears when she saw the car.

“We had six years of marriage, but we were going through a divorce,” she told a Univision TV crew. “I never stopped loving him no matter what happened between us.”

There was no sign of drugs or alcohol in the car, said North Miami Beach police detective Armando Sotero. But Linares, originally from Peru, had a long record of speeding tickets and other traffic violations in Florida. He lived near Jacksonville before moving to Margate with his wife.

Investigators are still waiting for blood test results from the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office to determine if the driver was intoxicated.

The scene of Wednesday’s tragedy was surreal. A gaping hole in the shape of a car revealed the interior of the nursing home where elderly residents were jolted awake hours earlier. Firefighters tore down part of the remaining wall to reinforce the structural beams that were damaged.

The car sailed into a small bathroom between two rooms, Sotero said. Some “flying debris” landed in adjacent rooms, but no one was seriously hurt.

Four residents of the nursing home were taken to Aventura Hospital with minor injuries, and another 25 were moved from the north wing of the building into a community room in the center of the building.

Sotero said the car was “traveling at a high rate of speed, easily twice the speed limit, which is 35 right there.” The detective thought Linares was actually driving much faster, judging from the “vault” of the car and how high it flew before crashing into the building near the ceiling of the first floor.

Miami Dade Fire Rescue and North Miami Beach building officials worked Wednesday to secure the structure and build temporary supports to keep the wall in place. They used a 70-ton rotating tow truck to pull the car out of the wall, said Capt. Jeff Strickland of the Miami-Dade Fire Department. Police pulled the body out of the car once it was back on the ground.

Detective Sotero said police haven’t seen many accidents at that intersection, where West Dixie Highway takes a sharp curve at Northeast 166th Street, just to the north of busy 163rd Street and past the popular Laurenzo’s Italian market. But coming from the north to the south it is “a bit of a sharp turn,” he said, that “could be tricky at a high speed.”