A man riding an ATV on the Palmetto Expressway was killed Sunday afternoon when he either lost control of his vehicle or crashed into another off-road motorcycle rider and was thrown, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Ramon Jose Hernandez Acevedo, 20, was not wearing any protective gear when he hit the pavement.
The fatal accident, which closed three southbound lanes of the expressway at 103rd Street, came a day before hundreds of off-road bike enthusiasts are expected to converge on South Florida roads for an unsanctioned annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day ride.
For the past two years, dirt bike and motorcycle riders have taken over the streets, popping wheelies and jumping medians. The movement dubbed #Bikesupgunsdown on social media draws people from across the country. There is no set time or course that riders follow.
For the last week, FHP and other law enforcement agencies have been warning drivers that there will be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to motorbikes that are not allowed on paved roads including ATVs and dirt bikes. Message boards on highways have also been warning drivers that ATVs are not allowed.
On Sunday evening, dozens of ATV riders were spotted around South Florida. One group was seen popping wheelies outside the AmericanAirlines Arena as spectators arrived for a circus performance.
“We see too often these individuals who use these vehicles in a careless and unlawful manner, putting not only themselves in danger, but those around them,” Miami-Dade police Maj. Hector Llevat said at a recent press conference about the dangerous “stunting” behavior.
In Sunday’s accident, FHP Lt. Yosdany Veloz said the ATV rider was heading south with a group of other riders when he was ejected from his vehicle. Veloz said he didn’t collide with a car.
Veloz said he hopes other riders will heed the warnings.
“There is no other way to say it — it’s just not safe,” he said.
Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.