On her way to a road safety meeting, traffic expert dies in car crash

Maribel Lena and her daughter Bianca in a Facebook photo posted to Bianca’s page.
Maribel Lena and her daughter Bianca in a Facebook photo posted to Bianca’s page. Bianca Lena/Facebook

Maribel Lena, a 30-year employee of the Florida Department of Transportation, was on the way to a news briefing to detail new, sturdier poles for I-95 express lanes to reduce accidents.

She never arrived.

Lena, 52, was killed in a car crash Thursday morning on Southwest Eighth Street and 157th Avenue in West Miami-Dade. The accident involved three vehicles.

“We had a press conference and she was supposed to be there and when she didn’t get there we started to worry,” said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Sanchez. The two worked together often. “She surely will be missed,” Sanchez said. “On behalf of the Florida Highway Patrol our condolences go out to the family and her coworkers.”

Ariah Osceola, 23, of Hollywood, was traveling east in a Ford Explorer behind Timothy Kressly, 51, of Homestead, who was in a GMC pickup. According to FHP, Osceola tried to overtake Kressly by shifting to the right lane. In doing so, Osceola hit the back of Lena’s 2014 Acura Legend, sending her car careening off the road onto the grassy shoulder. Lena’s Legend spun clockwise, hit the embankment and flipped on its roof.

The impact also caused Osceola’s vehicle to hit Kressly’s.

Lena died in her car. The crash investigation is ongoing and charges have not yet been filed.

Her loss left her colleagues at the FDOT heartbroken.

“She was definitely a genuine, lovely person,” said Cynthia Turcios, a public information specialist who worked under Lena for two years. Others called Lena “a great professional” and “a good, kind person.”

Lena had a 21-year-old daughter, Bianca Lena.

Follow @HowardCohen

Related stories from Miami Herald