Two separate motor vehicle crashes claim the lives of 5 pedestrians, 6 total in Miami this weekend.

City, County and Marlins officials must address shocked, saddened and angry community regarding unbridled vehicular chaos.

The 4th of July will not be a day of celebration for the friends and families of the 5 victims killed by out-of-control motorists in Miami this past weekend. In one of the bloodiest and saddest days I can recall, Saturday June 30th will be remembered as one of the ugliest and most tragic in 21st century Miami.

The worst of the carnage took place on Saturday evening in the shadows of the sparkling new Marlins Park. Shortly after leaving the Marlins game, three family members from Georgia were killed on the sidewalk walking to their car when a red Dodge minivan driven by Herberto Ortega Arias, 67, of Miami jumped the curb and plowed into them only one block away from the stadium. The dead victims were all related and include a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman. Another relative, a 10-year-old girl remains hospitalized in extremely critical condition. A passing cyclist was struck and slightly injured and another pedestrian was so distraught over the sight that he too had to be hospitalized. The driver of the minivan, Arias, also died in the crash.

Screen shot of on Sunday morning.

The Miami Herald coverage included speculation that Arias may have suffered some sort of medical emergency which lead him to lose control of the vehicle. However, the Associated Press coverage made no such claims, reporting that “authorities did not say what caused driver to lose control of the minivan”.

Only a few hours later, senseless vehicular violence struck again. This time, two people standing outside a Liberty City restaurant were struck and killed when an out-of-control motorist slammed his SUV into a parked vehicle. The impact of the crash pushed the parked vehicle through the restaurant’s front window, violently striking the men, who both died at the scene.

The staggering pedestrian death toll from motor vehicle crashes this weekend should rightfully be a long-overdue tipping point for improved road safety and dangerous roadway design in Miami.

Transit Miami calls on Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez, City of Miami Mayor Regalado, Marlins President David Samson and local police departments to jointly address a community that is truly stunned by the unacceptable level of motorized vehicular carnage this weekend.

The Marlins have yet to release any official statement on the crash, they shamefully did not hold a moment of silence for the victims before today’s game, did not make a public service announcement reminding fans to drive safely or do anything to meaningfully address the tragedy right on their doorstep. Last year, when a fan at a Texas Rangers baseball game tragically fell to his death, the Rangers lowered flags to half mast and established a memorial fund the very next day in the victims name. Transit Miami calls on the Marlins to follow suit and not act like insensitive “small fish” in light of Saturday’s horrific crash.

Further, we have repeatedly addressed the deplorable pedestrian and cycling conditions around Marlins Park. It’s painfully obvious to anyone walking in the area that the conditions around the stadium are utterly ill-suited for the increased pedestrian volumes that come with major sporting events.

In an article for Transit Miami earlier in June (Bike to the Game Day….Not in Miami), I wrote, “The arterials of NW 7th St and NW 17th Ave are downright hostile and nasty – for motorists as well.”

This is precisely where the crash on Saturday took place that killed four people.

I continue, “The Marlins also consistently brushed off requests from the City of Miami to assist in making the area more bicycle friendly. The team did widen a few sidewalks immediately adjacent to the ballpark.”

Unfortunately for the family from Georgia, these widened sidewalks do not exist more than few steps from the stadium. Walk just one block away to your car or bus stop and you’ll experience dated, dangerous and dilapidated sidewalk conditions directly adjacent to roaring vehicles everywhere you step.

Here is NW 7th St. just a few feet east of where the crash took place (behind me). The stadium is only one block Southeast. Notice how narrow the sidewalk is, directly adjacent to a high-speed arterial roadway with no protection from speeding vehicles (on-street parking, trees, a protected bike lane, etc.) The sidewalk is also steeply sloped for the curb cut, which most likely exceeds ADA requirements for wheelchairs. There is however, room for on-street parking behind me, and a grossly long left-turn lane to my left.
This is where thousands of people will attempt to walk to get to and from Marlins Park this year.

The past 24 hours have been a total embarrassment for Miami, as major national news and sports media outlets have covered the horrific event to wide audiences.

The current conditions on Miami’s roads is emphatically a public safety crisis. A response from our local and state officials is not something we are merely “asking for”. Events of Saturday’s magnitude require a strong, meaningful, action-oriented response. Failure to do so represents a dereliction of duty to our community at the highest level.

Mayors Gimenez and Regalado, the citizens of Miami-Dade county await your leadership.

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11 Responses to Unsafe On the Sidewalk, Unsafe Anywhere

  1. Leah says:

    This morning’s Miami Herald front page actually reads “7 killed by out of control vehicles over weekend.” I think “out of control vehicles” is a pretty apt description for the conditions of our road EVERY DAY.

    Thank you for continuing to draw attention to this crisis.


  2. Vehicles don’t kill people, reckless drivers do.


  3. Rima says:

    It is sad to see your predictions come true. I think of truly great baseball arenas like Wrigley Field where thousands gather before and after games to fill the streets, purchase merchandise and food and drinks. This Marlins stadium is nothing like it. I’ve already made up my mind to never go there to boycott the ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and now, to save my life.


  4. […] city has a very long way to go in securing the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. As Transit Miami blogger Craig Chester wrote in response to the crashes: “The staggering pedestrian death toll […]


  5. Robert Flanders says:

    The sum total of the collective intelligence and implementation in Miami-Dade County brought to bear on the long-standing lack of good planning that lead to dangerous and unattractive “automobile-centric” streets is shockingly low. And, since we don’t really have “problems in paradise”, we will never properly address them. The physical make-up of our city and county is the vision of those that came before us: Dumb and dumber. Miami continues to forecast its future as a truly 2nd rate city, and that’s a shame.


  6. Mike Moskos says:

    It would be interesting to learn what percentage of people actually have auto insurance when they are stopped by the police for whatever reason.

    On the Marlins stadium, does anyone remember why it wasn’t built on the old Miami Arena site (next to the Overtown Metrorail station)? Was the parcel too small?


  7. Andrew Georgiadis says:

    The departments that are responsible for such roadway designs defend those designs on the grounds that they are “safe.” If we demand street trees, on-street parking, fewer curb cuts, wider sidewalks, they say “those are unsafe” or “those features worsen congestion.” We should be ashamed of ourselves. I’m sickened to call myself a Miamian when I read such reports. We should shame the decision-makers into providing more layers of protection for our pedestrians and cyclists. If we don’t, we are less than human.


  8. FormerBikeRider says:

    I just moved to Miami. I look in amazement at the lack of bike trails or shoulders for bike riders safety. I will not even attempt to bike ride in Miami, no shoulders + The worst Drivers I have ever seen = a lot of pain, which this piece points out perfectly!!


  9. Romy says:

    While I agree completely with the remarks of the writers above and those in your article about the general lack of safety concerns in our traffic design, I think also that part of the problem is the general lack of civility in Miami and Miami Beach. With unsafe streets, bike riders are taking to our narrow flush to street edge sidewalks. I’m 75 and walk slowly with a cane. I don’t know how many times, I’ve been yelled at by a biker, “Get out of my way!!!”


  10. Brandon says:

    I would agree that we or rather FDOT needs to do drastic improvements of our streets to make them safer. But let’s look at some numbers - NYC has 133 pedestrians per year killed by cars. To RIMA’s point- just recently, on July 27th a man was killed walking near her beloved Wrigley field, in total 32 pedestrians were killed in Chicago.

    Now do we have some work to do in Miami, Yes but let’s not forget this Majic City is young. I believe that with focus from us the pedestrians who care, Miami will continue to grow and become a world class city!


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