Father of crash victim mourns and demands answers
Three days after a trio of teens were killed while waiting for a bus to take them to a soccer tournament, parents, friends and teammates are still anxiously waiting for answers from a tight-lipped police department.
The teens were struck by a car in the predawn hours Saturday at a North Miami bus stop. North Miami police released the names of the three victims — Gedeon Desir, 13, Lens Desir, 15, and Richecarde Dumay, 17, all members of Little Haiti Football Club, a local youth soccer team. The boys were not related.
Police have yet to identify the driver of the car, citing the “pending investigation.” But the Miami Herald learned Monday that the driver was Mariam Coulibaly, a 31-year-old exotic dancer with a suspended driver’s license who smelled of alcohol, according to sources with knowledge of the case.
Sources say Coulibaly smelled of alcohol at the scene, and that she also told medical staff she had been partying all night. Investigators estimate Coulibaly was driving around 60 miles per hour before crashing into the three teens on the corner of Northeast 13th Avenue and 125th Street. They died on impact at about 5:22 a.m.
“I came from a blackout. When I woke up I didn’t even know that I hurt people,” Coulibaly said early Tuesday morning from her intensive care bed at Aventura Hospital. She acknowledged the crash and said she is in pain. “I shattered my chest. I had surgery on my stomach; shattered my hip.“
Detectives obtained a search warrant for her blood, which will be tested in the coming days, a source said. Records show Coulibaly had two misdemeanor criminal arrests in Miami-Dade: a petty theft in 2017 and marijuana possession in 2008. Both cases were dropped.
Monday night North Miami Police declined to confirm the name of the driver. “It’s Memorial Day weekend and the investigation is still ongoing. It only happened a few days ago and we have to make sure the investigation is done right,” said North Miami Assistant Police Chief Franzia Brea.
According to public records, Coulibaly has been cited by police for 35 separate infractions since 2008. Incidents included running a red light, careless driving and driving without proof of insurance. Her driver’s license was suspended in January after she failed to pay a court fine for a red-light traffic ticket from 2016, according to Miami-Dade records. She also was cited for knowingly driving with a suspended license in July 2015, a charge that was later dropped.
The three boys who were killed were members of the Little Haiti FC club, established in April 2014 to provide support to low-income children. Coaches told the Herald that they decide to enroll in the ENIGMA tournament on Saturday on the off-chance one of the players would get noticed by a scout.
“They know Weston is well known for soccer; that it’s a way to expose them to people that can crack open opportunities for them. No one is going to notice them in Little Haiti,” said the team’s head coach, Gomez Laleau. “They understand that through sport, their dreams of going to college would someday come true.”
Their coaches described them as “extremely funny.” “They were brothers, like family,” said Coach Wilnord Emile, who is also Gedeon’s guardian.
Gedeon Desir, who attended North Miami Middle School, arrived from Haiti nine months ago, said Emile. His parents were trying to remove him from violence in his home country, where children Desir’s age often carry guns, said Emile. “But look how he ended up here: dead.”
Church leaders said Gedeon would wake up early every Sunday and take two buses to serve as an altar boy at the 7 a.m. Mass.
“This is the kind of kids that we lost. We didn’t lose them in drugs, in delinquency,” said Father Reginald Jean-Mary of Notre Dame d’Haiti Church.
Lens Desir and Richecarde Dumay attended Miami Edison High School. Dumay had lined up two scholarships to attend college next year: one for soccer, one for football.
“Look at the promise in their eyes. Look at their smiles, the future they had,” said Pat Santangelo, who sits on the soccer club’s board of directors.
Lens Desir, who lived with his parents, immigrated to Miami about two years ago. His mother and father told the Miami Herald that he “dedicated his life to school, staying out of trouble and playing soccer.”
“He never disrespected us. He was a good boy always. He made us so proud,” said his mom, Mirline Jean, in Creole.
Lens’ father said he was never notified by soccer team leadership that his son had to walk several blocks in the dark to a pickup spot.
“I was under the impression that the bus came to our door. So when they told me my son was dead, and where he was killed, I was so confused,” said Penel Jean.
Dumay moved to the U.S. in 2014 and lived with his grandparents in North Miami after his father, Antonio Dumay, moved to Alabama for a better-paying job at a poultry plant to support his son. For months, the father tried to convince the teen to join him, but the boy wanted to stay with his friends and teammates in Little Haiti, he said.
“I didn’t take him from Haiti to come here to die,” he said.
On Monday, parents still had no information about who was driving the car during the fatal crash.
“What’s on my mind is that my son is nothing to them,” Dumay said, who had identified his son’s body at the medical examiners’ office just a few hours before. “But I want to let them know that he’s everything to me. He had a bright future in front of him. He’s gone and I don’t have an answer yet from the people that’s supposed to give the best answer.”
Brett Rosen, an attorney representing Lens Desir’s parents, said police had not responded to the parents’ phone calls and emails.
“There are a lot of crimes that are under investigation, that they can’t release certain details of that crime. We understand that. But, they can’t even come here and tell the family the name of the person?” Rosen said.
“The world knows the names of these three boys that were killed. But or some reason, we’re protecting the name of the murderer? That doesn’t make any sense.”