Minutes before the Florida Highway Patrol opened the road where a Miami motorcycle patrolman lost his life in a violent crash Tuesday, more than a dozen officers joined together in a circle to pray.
“It was rather refreshing for officers of multiple agencies to gather to pray for our fallen brother no matter what color unform they were wearing or what badge they displayed,” Javier Ortiz, president of Miami’s police union, said Wednesday.
The moment was captured in a poignant photograph that circulated on social media.
While Florida Highway Patrol was still trying to piece together the deadly crash at Southwest Eighth Street and 137th Avenue Tuesday afternoon that involved 10 vehicles, investigators on Wednesday released more information about the crash and the other people involved in it.
And a grieving police community announced funeral information for officer Jorge Sanchez, 53, who was only 17 months from retirement and was killed while waiting at a red light.
“This is an extremely devastating time for the Miami Police Department as well as the community at large,” Ortiz said.
According to the FHP, Sanchez was heading east on Southwest Eighth Street, heading to work. He was sitting on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, stopped in the center lane at a red light at Southwest 137th Avenue when he was rear-ended by an Infiniti G37 driven by Ronald Pla, 26.
Pla was traveling east in the right turn lane and “lost control,” according to FHP. He suffered minor injures and was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center. A passenger in his car, Abraham Miranda, 27, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Baptist Hospital.
The impact threw Sanchez off the bike and onto the roadway. Sanchez landed four lanes from where he was hit, according to early reports.
After hitting the motorcycle, the Infiniti spun into the intersection and into westbound traffic. It hit two other cars, which caused a chain reaction involving several other vehicles. In total, including the Infiniti and motorcycle, there were 10 vehicles impacted. It wasn’t clear Wednesday how or why Pla lost control, the FHP said. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday evening.
The crash caused mayhem, sending pieces of mangled metal everywhere and closing the busy intersection and the two roads for hours. The motorcycle was shattered and landed in the westbound lanes. People ran to help Sanchez. The Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office said he died at 2:19 p.m. Tuesday.
The other vehicles and people involved were:
▪ Dilean Hidalgo, 42, in a 2014 Toyota Corolla, suffered minor injuries.
▪ Mario Milan, 22, in a 2005 Nissan Altima, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center.
▪ Elma Alvarez, 48, in a 2016 Lexus RX350, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Kendall Regional.
▪ Lilian Claudio, 39, in a 2016 Hyundai Elantra, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Kendall Regional.
▪ Arturo Boucugnani, 68, in a 2015 Cadillac SRX, was not injured.
▪ Carmen Viladrosa, 56, in a 2015 Nissan Versa, was not injured.
▪ Ana Quintana, 79, in a 2011 Chevy Cruz, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Kendall Regional.
▪ Liubel Fernandez, 37, in a 2001 Nissan Altima, was not injured.
Sanchez has a son on the Miami police department also named Jorge Sanchez, and also leaves behind his mother, a fiancee, another son and a daughter. Sanchez joined the department at age 32, working as an officer in the Coral Way neighborhood and later being promoted to a detective in major investigations.
A viewing will be from 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday at Vior Funeral Home, 291 NW 37 Ave. A funeral will be held promptly at 10 a.m. Friday at Miami-Dade Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St. The burial will follow at Woodlawn Cemetary North.