Father of crash victim mourns and demands answers
Before her car mowed down three teenage soccer players, a South Florida stripper had been cited for 42 traffic infractions since 2008, a troubling history that also included at least seven previous crashes, records show.
Investigators say Mariam Coulibaly — driving with a suspended license — plowed her car at high speed into a sidewalk near a North Miami bus stop early Saturday, killing the three teens and sending her to Aventura Hospital with a shattered hip and other injuries.
“I’m very much depressed about everything going on,” Coulibaly, 31, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday morning from her intensive care bed. “I came from a blackout. When I woke up I didn’t even know that I hurt people.”
Coulibaly was arrested late Tuesday on charges of DUI manslaughter after initial toxicology tests showed she was driving drunk, sources told the Herald. She was placed under police guard at the hospital, and will be booked into a jail when she is well enough to be discharged.
The horrific crash killed Gedeon Desir, 13, Lens Desir, 15, and Richecarde Dumay, 17, all members of Little Haiti Football Club, a local soccer team for at-risk, low-income youth. Their deaths devastated their families and North Miami’s tight-knit Haitian American community.
The three were walking to a bus stop early Saturday, about 5:22 a.m., on their way to catch a bus to a soccer tournament in Weston. Coulibaly’s SUV, believed to be driving at least 60 miles an hour down Northeast 125th Street at 13th Avenue, veered off the road and ran over the teens.
Three days after the crash, the North Miami police department, which is leading the investigation, continued to refuse to officially identify Coulibaly as the driver, though the Herald and other media outlets have named her. The department has refused to say why.
“The world knows the names of these three boys that were killed,” said Brett Rosen, a lawyer who represents Lens’ family. “But for some reason, we’re protecting the name of the murderer? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Investigators believe she had spent part of the night working at The Body, a Biscayne Boulevard strip club not far from North Miami.
Toxicologists tested vials of her blood seized by police at Aventura Hospital and initial results indicated she was drunk by nearly double the legal limit some four hours after the wreck, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the Herald.
The sources have also said that police said Coulibaly smelled of alcohol, and admitted to medical staff that she had been partying.
Coulibaly’s life appears to have been in a years-long tailspin.
She moved out of her mother’s house in Homestead about eight months ago and settled in Miramar, family said. Coulibaly had gotten an office job, claimed her brother-in-law, who asked not to be named. She also worked as a hairdresser on the side.
“The last thing we know is that she was having a good time in Miami, probably Miami Beach like anyone else on Memorial Day weekend,” said her brother-in-law, who asked not to be named. “We are thinking that she was probably heading home ... She’s a good woman. It’s not like she’s a troublemaker. This is just an unfortunate accident. She’s not even the type of girl to be out late. She’s not reckless.”
Last month, Coulibaly filed for federal bankruptcy, saying she has over $325,000 in debt, most of it stemming from hospital bills and student loans from Everglades University, a private school. Her biggest debt was from Jackson Health Systems, which filed a lien against her for $218,404 in medical bills stemming from a 2017 car accident.
She also had two criminal cases, one a minor arrest for marijuana in 2013, another for shoplifting from a South Beach Marshall’s. Both cases were dropped.
Most of her trouble revolved around the road.
In Miami-Dade County, she’d received 35 infractions since 2008, for everything from careless driving to failing to stop at a red light to having an expired tag, records show. In Broward, she had seven more infractions.
In 2013, Coulibaly was speeding in an Infiniti M35 on State Road 9 in Dania Beach, crashing into a Jeep Cherokee from behind, running it off the road and into a concrete barrier. The Cherokee veered back into the road and hit a third car driven by a woman named Catherine Jean.
Coulibaly was cited for speeding. Jean later sued Coulibaly, winning a judgment of over $11,000. Coulibaly never responded to the lawsuit.
One year later, the rental car company Avis sued Coulibaly for nearly $10,000 after someone stole a car she had rented. The lawsuit alleged she left the keys in the car. Again, she never responded to the lawsuit. A judge entered a default judgment against her.
The tickets kept coming. In 2015 alone, she got ticketed in Broward on two occasions, both times for speeding, driving with an expired tag and driving with a suspended license.
Records show she also notched four traffic accidents in Miami-Dade that year, two of them hit and runs:
▪ On Jan. 31, 2015, Coulibaly was driving on 41st Street on Miami Beach when she rear-ended an SUV with a family visiting from New York. The damage was minor. She was cited for careless driving, a ticket that was later dismissed.
▪ On Feb. 14, 2015, Coulibaly was driving on the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade when she veered into another lane “for no apparent reason” and hit another car. She drove off, but was found 11 days later. “She said that out of panic she left the scene,” a trooper wrote in his report. Prosecutors dismissed the citations after the driver she hit failed to show for court, according to the docket.
▪ On Feb. 18, 2015, just days after her previous crash, she again was involved in a hit and run. She blew through a red light in Miami Gardens, T-boning another car that had the green light.
She drove off, but a witness wrote down her tag number. She later admitted she’d fled the crash scene and was given two tickets; she received a “withhold of adjudication,” which means she got no points on her traffic record, and was ordered to traffic school.
▪ In December 2015, Coulibaly drove off the side of the Florida Turnpike, hitting a traffic sign on the shoulder, then a guardrail. The two tickets again got dismissed, because no witnesses appeared, according to the docket.
In the months and years after that last accident, she picked up five red-light camera tickets in Miami-Dade. Four of them got dismissed. She pleaded no contest to one in 2016 — but never paid the fines, leading to her license getting suspended again.
Her family said she had yet another accident in 2017, although records of that crash could not be located on Tuesday. She was not ticketed for anything that year. Her brother-in-law said she hit a Miami-Dade County bus, landing her in the Jackson hospital for weeks with broken bones and a concussion.
“We are feeling bad about those kids. We are very, very sorry,” he said of the latest accident. “We are praying for the kids and the entire family. It’s not an easy situation. We know what it’s like because we were in that situation two years ago when we almost lost her.”