Miami Police officer dead after multi-vehicle crash in West Miami-Dade

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The City of Miami Police Department is mourning the loss of their brother in blue, Officer Jorge Sanchez, after he was thrown off his motorcycle in a multi-vehicle crash, Tuesday. The crash injured 10 other people.

The flags were at half-staff, Wednesday afternoon, as a hearse transported Sanchez ‘s body from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office to a funeral home in a police funeral procession. The funeral home will be working with the family of the fallen officer.

The chain-reaction crash occurred at the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and 137th Avenue, in West Miami-Dade, Tuesday, at around 1:45 p.m. First responders transported Sanchez to Kendall Regional Hospital as a trauma alert, but he died sometime after.

At a 7 p.m. press conference, Tuesday, officials said Sanchez was just a few months away from retirement, after 21 years on the force.

“Jorge was a consummate professional,” said City of Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes. “He wore the uniform proudly, and he served this department with dignity, strength and professionalism.”

Miami Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #20 President sent out the following statement ahead of the press conference:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I regret to inform you that Officer Jorge Sanchez has passed away while performing his duties as a law enforcement officer. Brother Jorge was riding his MPD motorcycle when he was struck by a vehicle. He was transported to Kendall Regional Hospital. The Fraternal Order of Police responded to the hospital soon after the crash. Chief Llanes will have a press conference at Miami Police Headquarters at 1900 HRS. The FOP is working with the family and the MPD on funeral arrangements. Please pray for his family. Special thanks to Miami-Dade Police, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Miami Beach Police and the Florida Highway Patrol for their assistance.”

A procession took the officer’s body from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office, just before 6 p.m. The City of Miami Police Department later lowered flags at police headquarters in Downtown Miami to half-staff.

Before the road reopened, Tuesday evening, investigators from multiple agencies prayed over the exact spot the officer went down.

“He enjoyed police work very much,” said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez. “He enjoyed wearing his uniform and projecting that proud image of being a Miami police officer from very, very early in his career till his passing. He was very proud.”

The crash involved at least three vehicles, including a white car, which landed on its side. At one point, three cars were on top of each other, while the police motorcycle was seen crumpled on the other side of the road.

Witnesses sent pictures to 7News of cars on their sides and of smoke billowing from the vehicles.

“Well, this white car was tumbling through the air and then smashes into those cars and smoke was everywhere,” said a witness.

Officer Sanchez was on his way to work when the crash occurred. The officer was transported as a trauma alert via helicopter to Kendall Regional Hospital.

Witnesses told 7News the officer was sitting at a red light when a vehicle plowed into him, sending him flying through the air. “Flew pretty high and pretty far, so I just wanted to get to him to see if he was OK,” said a witness, Elizabeth Alvarez.

A man who works at a nearby tire shop said he performed CPR on the officer.

“I was the first one to get there, and I saw the guy on the floor. He was still breathing very lightly,” Alberto Lugo said. “We actually turned him around. We didn’t want to turn him around because we didn’t know if he had a spinal cord injury or anything, but I guess that’s out the window when somebody’s life is on the line, so we did what we could.”

Florida Highway Patrol has taken over the investigation.

It remains unknown how badly the others involved in the crash were hurt, but officer Sanchez was the only one transported as a trauma alert.

“You know you go out there, and you never know when you’re going to come home again,” said Sanchez. “That’s why you kiss your family and children and you do the best you can, and you do what you think is right, but at the end of the day, your mission is to come home. He did not come home tonight.”

The 53-year-old officer is survived by his mother, fiance, his daughter and two sons. “It’s been extremely hard,” said the President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Javier Ortiz. “They have a 7-year-old son. His life was his father, so when the news is broken to his son, it’s going to be extremely hard.”

His oldest son is also a City of Miami Police Officer.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said 26-year-old Ronald Nicholas Pla was behind the wheel of his vehicle when he plowed into the cop during the crash for unknown reasons. They are still investigating the crash; charges remain pending.

Pla was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

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