Cops fail to find body of mom injured in car crash
Annie Becerra, a young mother from Southwest Miami-Dade, was the front passenger in a Nissan Versa that blew through a red light and smashed into another car.
Somehow, Becerra’s body went undiscovered in the wreckage for more than one hour — even as police cordoned off the scene and began interviewing witnesses.
Her one-time boyfriend, the driver of the Nissan who prosecutors say was intoxicated, ran away after the crash but was found hiding nearby. He returned to the mangled Nissan, climbed into the backseat and munched pizza. The minutes ticked by.
The boyfriend, Freddy Mieryteran, “mentioned nothing” about anyone else inside the car, one Florida Highway Patrol trooper later recalled. It was not until the trooper began doing an inventory of the crash scene that he noticed Becerra “wedged between the passenger side front floor board and the dash board.”
He pulled her from the mangled car. It was too late. Suffering from a traumatic head injury, the 23-year-old Becerra was rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center and declared dead a few days later.
According to her family’s lawyers, about an hour and 15 minutes passed from the crash to the moment her body was discovered — precious time that paramedics and doctors might have used to save her. “As a result, her brain continued to swell for an extended period of time, ultimately causing her death,” her family’s lawyers wrote in a letter to FHP and Miami-Dade Police.
Now, her family’s legal team has filed notices announcing it will sue FHP and Miami-Dade Police for negligence. FHP declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Miami-Dade Police did not return a request for comment.
“When it comes to brain trauma and swelling, time is life,” said Coral Gables lawyer John Lukacs Jr., who represents Becerra’s mother. “This delay cost Annie her life. This is one of the most egregious cases of negligence I have ever seen.”
Mieryteran, 21, is awaiting trial for DUI manslaughter and a host of other felonies. He will appear Thursday in Miami-Dade criminal court for a routine hearing; his defense lawyer declined to comment.
The galling case has never before been publicized, and newly released police and court documents offer a detailed narrative of what happened on the night of Nov. 30, 2018.
Becerra grew up in Cuba, and came to South Florida at age 6 with her family. She graduated from John A. Ferguson Senior High School in 2016 and attended Miami-Dade College, with hopes of one day becoming a therapist for disabled children.
She was inspired by her younger brother, who has been battling cancer since the age of 18 months. “She really wanted to work with autistic children,” said her mother, Odalys Fortes.
Her schooling was sidetracked by the birth of her daughter, who is now 2 years old. Becerra relished her role as a mother, Fortes said. “She was so happy with her daughter,” Fortes said.
The father was Mieryteran, 21, her high-school boyfriend. He had a checkered past. In April 2018, he was arrested after police said he stole a credit card from a parked car, then used it to buy two video games at the Walmart in Sweetwater. He was put on probation.
The two had a tortured relationship.
Three months before the crash, Becerra filed for a restraining order against Mieryteran, alleging he broke into her grandmother’s house through the living-room window. Among other allegations: Mieryteran gave her a black eye, burned her with hot cooking oil on purpose and punched, kicked and dragged her by the hair on Mother’s Day.
The restraining order, however, was dismissed when Becerra failed to appear for a court hearing.
The two were no longer together, but frequently interacted because of their daughter. Exactly why Becerra was with Mieryteran on her final night alive remains unclear.
On the night of Nov. 30, Mieryteran was driving the Nissan, a rental car that had been reported stolen. He did not have a valid driver’s license. Becerra was in the front seat. Their infant daughter was not with them.
According to troopers, the Nissan was speeding east on Kendall Drive, going through a red light at Southwest 122nd Avenue. The Nissan plowed into a BMW 320i that was driving through the intersection, which in turn hit another car.
Witnesses saw Mieryteran get out of the car and walk away. An off-duty Miami-Dade police officer who was flagged down by witnesses found him hiding in some bushes at a nearby shopping plaza. The first on-duty Miami-Dade patrol officers arrived moments later, at 10:30 p.m.
Mieryteran told the off-duty officer “he was the only occupant within the vehicle and he dropped off his ‘baby mama’ prior to the accident,” according to a Miami-Dade police report.
Because the street is a state road, FHP was assigned to investigate the crash. As officers assembled, Mieryteran was brought back to the crash scene, where he was seen eating the pizza in the backseat of the Nissan.
“He never mentioned the victim having been in the vehicle with him, nor did he mention she was wedged in the front passenger floorboard under the glove box,” according to a search warrant.
At least four county officers were on the scene, according to police reports.
“Police departments must have clear policies and procedures in place to inspect vehicles following a serious accident to ensure that any passengers are accounted for. The failure to timely inspect the vehicle by Miami-Dade police and Florida Highway Patrol is inexcusable,” said lawyer Jose Raposo, who also represents Becerra’s family.
FHP Trooper Kyle Viveiros arrived and began interviewing witnesses. He noticed the Nissan smelled of marijuana and Mieryteran was slurring his speech. Heineken bottles were later seen inside the car, and a “strong odor of alcohol” wafted from the car, according to the warrant.
The speedometer was locked in at 64 miles per hour — well above the 45-mile-per-hour speed limit, according to court documents.
Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue paramedics arrived to take Mieryteran to the hospital after he began complaining of pains. It was soon after that when Viveiros forced open the twisted passenger door and saw Becerra “curled up into a ball” on the floorboard. He pulled her from the wreckage.
“At first, it appeared as though the female was breathing as her stomach was motioning normally,” he wrote in a report. A pulse was detected. Officers tried CPR on her. Fire-rescue were summoned at 11:43 p.m. Just after midnight, Becerra was admitted to Kendall Regional Hospital, where she died a couple of days later.
Mieryteran spent only a brief time in the emergency room. Troopers brought him back to the crash scene for questioning. It was 4:22 a.m. He waived his right to remain silent and began to talk, according to FHP.
He claimed the car was a rental and that the traffic light was yellow when he drove through the intersection. He insisted that he had dropped of his “baby mama” at her home before the accident.
Troopers pressed him on whether he actually did. “Yeah, you got me questioning myself,” he said, according to an FHP report.
He also insisted that he had not been drinking. A blood test taken four hours after the crash showed he had a legal amount of alcohol in his system to be driving — but also heavy doses of cocaine, marijuana and Xanax in his system
Before he was booked into jail, Mieryteran was driven to the FHP headquarters. He remained in a patrol car “fast asleep and snoring,” Viveiros wrote.