Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Underage "party princess" causes a fatal hit and run in Miami Beach

There are times when I wonder why many people, particularly young people, simply don't understand why there are laws that prohibit driving motor vehicles after drinking alcohol or doing drugs.

After all, we've known that drinking and driving are a dangerous mix ever since the Automobile Age began at the turn of the 20th Century. Operating any type of vehicle under any circumstance is a complex process which requires much care and mental acuity. Drivers need to have quick reflexes and what aircraft pilots call "situation awareness" in order to avoid an accident while going from Point A to Point B.  Alcohol tends to dull the senses, impairs judgment and slows the mind's ability to react quickly, especially in situations when split-second decisions have to be made. That's why there are laws on the books to deter or punish individuals who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after having several drinks.

Well, apparently Karlie Tomica, 20, didn't get the memo about the dangers of driving under the influence.

According to various news accounts, including this article in the Miami Herald, the self-described "party princess" struck and killed 49-year-old Stefano Riccioletti, a chef at the Shore Club in Miami Beach, with her car after completing her shift at the nightclub/bar Nikki Beach.  Tomica then attempted to flee the scene of the accident but was followed by a "Good Samaritan" who was driving to the gym.

As reporter Maria Lamagna writes in 3 lives intersect in tragedy on South Beach street:

Karlie Tomica was arrested near her apartment about four miles north of the tragedy. She was taken to Miami-Dade Jail and was released at the end of the day on $10,000 bond. Then she ran. She ran away from waiting reporters. And she still seems to be running — away from her life. Her once-prolific posts on Facebook and Twitter about her South Beach style have been wiped clean

Tomica, who hails from Port St. Lucie and attended Florida International University from 2010 to 2011, attempted to elude Jairo Fuentes' dogged pursuit once she realized she was being followed.  She didn't seem to care that she had killed Riccioletti and left his three children without a father.

According to the Miami Herald, the young woman - who had often tweeted and posted on Facebook about her drinking and partying - led Fuentes on a four-mile-long chase from the accident scene on Collins Avenue to her apartment building as he frantically called 911.

He was driving north on Collins Avenue at about 6 a.m. when a man crossing the street was struck by a vehicle and, as Fuentes describes it, sent flying through the air from the impact.
“I was in shock,” when he saw what had happened, Fuentes says. “I was screaming when I saw him fall on the floor, and I guess I was very angry too that [the driver] didn’t stop.”
Fuentes, 47, dialed 911 and followed the driver until he caught up with her north of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. The passenger window of the car was broken. She had tried to lose Fuentes several times, pretending to go left at one point and doing U-turns on Collins Avenue. He yelled to her many times that she should stop. Her erratic driving and swerving led him to believe she had been drinking.
When she eventually got out of the car, Fuentes says she was wearing a bright orange dress, and she refused to speak to him. Blood covered the side of the car. Police arrived minutes later.
Photo Credit: Twitter

Though DUI hit-and-runs occur every day, what makes this case disturbing is that the self-styled "party princess" shamelessly flaunted her drinking habits on Facebook and Twitter
Tomica, who has apparently deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts since she bonded out from the Miami-Dade County Jail, crowed on her Twitter profile that she was "Livin (sic) the dream".  
According to Herald writer Lamagna, Karlie Tomica was hardly shy about her love for booze:
She has tweeted several times recently about drinking alcohol, including one post on “Margaritas & spinach dip to celebrate the end of midterms” on Jan. 17.

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Oh, and here is the kicker. Karlie Tomica is not even old enough to legally consume margaritas, daiquiris or even a can of cheap, watery beer.  She's only 20 years old, two years older than the victim's 18-year-old son.
In her mugshot, which has gone viral, Tomica is shown in a teary-eyed, "woe is me" pose.

Is she sad because she killed a 49-year-old man whose three kids are now bereft of the presence of their dad? Is she crying because she knows she did the wrong thing thrice over? (After all, she broke Florida's underage drinking law, drove while under the influence of alcohol, and left the scene of a fatal accident....)
It would be nice to think that Miss Party Princess feels shame and remorse for her stupidity and reckless behavior. However, it's more likely that Karlie Tomica is not crying for the Riccioletti family or the loss she has caused. No, Karlie Tomica is mourning the fact that her days of "Livin the dream" are over.

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