MIAMI (WSVN) - Members of the Little Haiti Football Club have been invited as the guests of honor at a prestigious tournament in Bradenton, Fla.
The team was torn apart by tragedy when three of its members were run over and killed in North Miami in early May.
Club co-founder Pat Santangell spoke of Richarcarde Dumay, Lens Desir and Gedeon Desir, the three teens who, police said, were killed by an alleged drunk driver while heading to game.
“Well, you know, it hit the program very, very hard. We lost three wonderful young men,” Santangell said. “In fact, the one that was a high school senior, speaking about college scholarships, he had a college scholarship for football — American football — and soccer and had such a great future ahead of him. The other two children were only 14 and 15 years old. Also great academically and very, very good soccer players, so it was a tremendous blow.”
Months later, their teammates are faced with playing through the pain and grief.
During the final ceremony at the exhibition matches at IMG Academy, the three deceased players will be remembered.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime sent off the club with a message of support.
“You felt it first-hand, but the entire community went through a very, very difficult situation,” Monestime said to the team. “Life is not rosy every day. Every day is not a beautiful day for most people, and I would say perhaps for everyone. How can I use that to make me better? How can I use that to help change my community? How can I use that to improve? And I think that’s the opportunity you guys have today.”
Mariam Coulibaly, the driver accused of fatally striking the children in that incident, was charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
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