Three teens were killed by a car early Saturday in North Miami as they walked to a bus stop, police said.
It was about 5:22 a.m. The three soccer teammates, in uniform, were making their way to the pickup location for buses that were to take them to a scheduled tournament in Weston.
They never made it.
According to North Miami police, the department got a call reporting a traffic crash at Northeast 13th Avenue and 125th Street. When officers got there, the three children were already dead.
“They were pedestrians on a sidewalk. They died on impact,” a police spokeswoman said.
The teens were identified as 13-year-old North Miami Middle School student, Gideon Desir and Miami Edison High School students Lens Desir, 15 and Richcarde Dumay, 17. None of them were related.
The driver of the car, who has not been identified, was taken to Aventura Hospital & Medical Center in serious condition, police said. It was unclear late Saturday what caused the crash and if there was alcohol involved.
The children were part of the Little Haiti Football Club, a nonprofit organization that identifies low-income children with athletic talent. The buses were on their usual route of two stops, the other in Little Haiti.
“When the buses got to Weston there were three kids missing,” said Pat Santangelo, who sits on the board of directors for the soccer organization. “The coaches kept calling frantically and no answer. Eventually somebody answered one of the phones — a police officer, but they didn’t give the coaches any info.”
Other members of the team were not told about the missing teens.
“They let the kids play. Now they are on their way back to the Little Haiti Soccer Park, where they will be told and greeted by grief counselors,” Santangelo said Saturday evening.
Santangelo told the Miami Herald that many of the 100 kids enrolled in the free program are either homeless, undocumented or low-income. They range in age from 5 to 17.
“This team helps kids like these go from hopelessness to having a goal to work towards,” Santangelo said. “A lot of these kids come from nothing; they’re beyond high-risk.”
Uniforms are paid for by private sponsors, and businesses in the neighborhood help pay other expenses. The low-budget organization struggles to secure grants because there’s not enough funding for a grant writer. Despite those challenges, many of the children play against teams from elite programs world wide. Seniors usually end up earning soccer scholarships to universities out of state.
The most recent donation? The teens’ funeral expenses.
Said Santangelo: “The kids that died today had promise. There was nothing but hope in front of them. Now it’s all gone.”