Girlfriend of bouncer run over by bar patron speaks out

HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Joe Curtis’ girlfriend isn’t surprised that he saved someone else from the van that hit him, last month, in a gesture that eventually ended his life.

For the bouncer at Ocean’s 11 Sports Lounge & Grill, protecting and supporting others was a regular part of his life, Debbie Pierson said. Pierson described her boyfriend as honest, genuine and, most of all, a protector. That’s why he worked at the bar in Hallandale Beach for several years.

“He already knew how much we all loved him,” Debbie Pierson, Curtis’ girlfriend said. “I don’t think there would’ve been anything different if we could’ve told him while he was laying there.”

Curtis spent three weeks in the hospital fighting to live, looking nothing like the 6 foot, 280-pound bouncer who made his living providing security at the Hallandale Beach bar.

“It was very traumatic,” Pierson said.

Police said the driver of the van that killed Curtis, 42-year-old Diago Salazar Uribe, spent more than an hour at the bar, in the early morning hours of March 20, charging three beers and an order of calamari on his debit card. But when he tried to close out his tab, the debit card was declined, Hallandale Beach Police Major Pedro Abut said.

So Curtis accompanied Uribe to his vehicle to receive another form of payment, police said.

According to police and witnesses, Uribe sped out of the parking lot in his van, running over Curtis, and crushing him under the weight of his vehicle.

“We didn’t know how bad it was until we got to the hospital,” Pierson said.

They were told that Curtis, the father of two adult children, grandfather of a 9-year-old and sole supporter of his elderly uncle, probably wouldn’t make it.

“He was really fighting,” Pierson said. “We could see that he was just, he was trying. We know that.”

Police said that just before the van struck him, Curtis pushed another customer out of the way.

“However, he leaves himself in a very vulnerable spot, and Mr. Uribe just continues to drive right through him,” Abut said.

“It was in his nature to be kind of a protector,” Pierson said.

Thus, over a bar tab, Curtis lost his life.

“That does bring a lot of anger — that a father’s lost, a grandfather’s lost. My future husband was lost,” Pierson said.

If you’re interested in helping his family,  including a daughter, grandson and elderly uncle, visit their GoFundMe here. 

Uribe has been charged with attempted murder and remains in the Broward County Jail.

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