MIAMI LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) - A young man was killed and a teenage girl was taken to the hospital after a car plunged into a lake in Miami Lakes.
Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene near Jacaranda Lane and Miami Lakes Drive early Tuesday morning.
According to police, the car was heading south at around 1:30 a.m. when it went into the water.
Area residents said the crash woke them up.
“The noise, it was unbelievable, and the house shook,” said Antonietta Kelly.
Kelly said she saw the car’s occupants emerge from the water.
“I see these kids coming out from the lake screaming, ‘Call 911,’” she said. “They were crying. They were very, very upset.”
Police said three males in their late teens and a 15-year-old girl were inside the vehicle.
The driver, identified as 18-year-old Jonathan Perez, and one of the passengers, 18-year-old Kevin Placeres, made it out of the red sedan uninjured.
However, crews had to extract the other two occupants from the submerged car.
“It’s very upsetting. This is horrible,” said Kelly.
Paramedics took a 15-year-old girl to Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition.
Police said the fourth occupant, identified by friends as 19-year-old Christopher Leyva, was pronounced dead by Palmetto General Hospital medical staff.
“It took a long time to get him out,” said Kelly. “I guess they couldn’t get him out.”
Tuesday afternoon, 7News cameras captured the victims’ friends and family members coming by the scene as investigators worked to piece together what happened.
“It’s pretty easy for you to go straight into the lake, first of all, because there’s no warning signs,” said a friend of the victims. “There’s no ‘caution’ [signs], there’s no lights, there’s no reflectants.”
Jorge Perez, a friend of Leyva, said news of the fatal crash spread quickly on social media.
“I kept seeing it on Instagram and Snapchat, ‘Rest in peace, Chris,’ ‘long live Chris,’ ‘we love you, bro,'” he said. “That hits you. It’s a reality check.”
“I don’t really know what happened or what caused it, but it’s New Year’s Eve, and a lot of drinking and driving accidents happen,” said witness Richie Cruz, “so I’m really hoping that wasn’t the case, but I just feel for those families.”
“It’s a shame, sad for any family to have to go through,” said a woman who lives nearby.
It remains unclear what led to the crash.
‘[Christopher] had his whole life ahead of him,” said Perez as he fought back tears. “Even if he didn’t know what he wanted to do at this very moment, he would tell you very soon. It’s not easy to leave a family behind.”
The car has since been pulled from the water and police continue to investigate.
Friends of the victims are expected to return to the scene of the crash to hold a vigil, Tuesday night.
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