Family that lost daughter in wrong-way crash faces long legal battle

MIAMI (WSVN) - It was a disappointing day in court for a South Florida family who has been forever changed by the actions of a driver accused of going the wrong-way on the highway.

A status hearing for a case against Franklin Chavez was over in minutes, Friday morning, in Miami. It will resume again in the summertime, while the attorneys prepare their cases.

Chavez faces vehicular homicide and DUI charges.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, one night in December of 2015, Chavez was driving south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95, in Downtown Miami, when he plowed into the Criales family head on. His headlights were not on, police said.

The crash cost the life of Noel Criales’ 23-year-old daughter, Carmen Criales, and left his 22-year-old son Brian mentally impaired and wheelchair-bound due to a traumatic brain injury. Their mother was also critically injured.

“I lost my daughter,” said Noel. “This should have never happened.”

Brian now requires around the clock care from his mother, who has become his primary caregiver. “We will continue fighting,” said the father. “I will be here every single time to support my son. I will not stop.”

“This affects multiple lives,” explained attorney Andrew Parks. “You see the young lady in the walker with them? That’s his mother, and this can’t be any easier on her as it is on the gentleman over there whose daughter is no longer with us.”

The Criales family were driving on I-95 to drop off Carmen at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where a flight would have taken her to medical school orientation in New Jersey.

Now, the Criales family will continue to prepare for what will likely be a very long legal process to get justice for their children.

“We believe in the law of this country,” said Noel. “We believe this situation is going to be solved as soon as possible.”

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