CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man who, they said, struck and killed a hotel shuttle driver in Coral Gables while stealing his van, Saturday.
According to Miami-Dade Police, Edward William Reid jumped behind the wheel of a shuttle van parked in front of the Courtyard Marriott, located at 2051 South LeJeune Road, off Minorca Avenue.
Investigators said the victim, identified as 62-year-old Eladio Rodriguez, was attempting to stop the suspect from driving off in the vehicle when he was struck.
Police and fire rescue crews responded to the scene of the theft and fatal crash, leaving hotel guests and passers-by disoriented and confused.
“I was shocked. What’s going on here? There’s police, crime scene. What’s going on?” said Sicilia, who is staying at the hotel.
“Apparently, the shuttle driver had dropped off some people at the hotel, and somebody jumped into the van while it was running and took off with the van,” said nearby resident Seraphin Martinez. “The driver jumped to stop the guy, and he was either run over by the van or slammed against something.”
Police later confirmed the suspect ran Rodriguez over and sped away.
Paramedics rushed the victim to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he later died.
Gemma Caballero, Rodriguez’s niece, said his wife received the heartbreaking call from the Marriott’s manager before hearing from police.
The alleged car thief, however, would not be able to elude authorities. City of Miami Police located Reid and the van nearly eight miles from the hotel, at the corner of Flagler Street and Southwest Eighth Avenue.
“Somebody who steals the van with all the markings of the hotel on it, he’s not gonna get too far,” said Martinez.
The shuttle is now dented, and two cars nearby also appeared to have sustained damage.
Reid was taken into police custody for questioning and was later arrested.
“A crime of opportunity in the middle of the day like that? It’s never happened,” said the Martinez.
Police and crime scene investigators spent most of the day placing down markers and gathering evidence at the hotel entrance.
Back at the Courtyard Marriott, police and crime scene investigators spent most of the day placing down markers and gathering evidence.
The news spread quickly to hotel guests and nearby residents. “The first thing I thought was his family, you know, just before the holidays,” said Fabianna. “It’s just really tragic.”
Caballero described her late uncle as a hard worker who moved to Miami with his family two years ago from Cuba with the hope of giving them a better life. His only job was driving the shuttle bus at the Marriott.
Rodriguez leaves behind a wife and three sons. “They’re grieving,” said general manage Aida Martinez. “We are all grieving. Eladio was an outstanding associate of ours. It’s been a tragic loss.”
Martinez added that the company that owns this franchise will cover funeral expenses. “We are working with the Rodriguez family very closely, helping them go through the grieving process, as well,” she said. “The associates are hurting, obviously.”
Reid faces a long list of charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and carjacking.
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