Ft Lauderdale, Florida – 26 year old Ashley Vaden, a cosmetologist, and 41 year old Duane Plouffe, a Navy Seal were killed on April 19 when the motorcycle they were riding was hit by two vehicles — one of them a tractor-trailer — on Interstate 95 near Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.
The drivers who hit them fled the scene.
That crash was just one of four unsolved, fatal hit-and-run accidents to occurr in Broward County since February. Florida Highway Patrol investigators together with Some of the surviving relatives of the hit-and-run victims on Wednesday asked the public for help.
”You aren’t suppose to bury your children. It’s just not suppose to be that way,” said Vaden’s father, Michael Vaden, with tears in his eyes. “In our case, there wasn’t much to bury.”
The recent spike in hit-and-run accidents has law enforcement very concerned according to FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky. ”It seems like every other day there is another hit-and-run,” he said.
According to FHP, the four hit-and-run crashes under investigation can be summarized as follows:
• On April 19, Vaden and Plouffe — who were northbound on I-95 on a motorcycle — were hit by a small white car. Vaden and Plouffe were thrown off the bike and then hit by another vehicle. Vaden was fatally run over by a tractor-trailer whose driver failed to stop. Police are looking for the tractor-trailer and the small white vehicle.
• On Feb. 15, Larry Grampa hit a vehicle while driving his motorcycle southbound on I-95 in Dania Beach and was thrown to the roadway. As he tried to get up, he was hit by another car and killed. That vehicle fled the scene, but police found a piece of the car at the scene.
• On April 30, John Deeley and his passenger, Johnny Turner, were westbound on I-75 near mile marker 30. Deeley swerved to avoid a vehicle that was stopped in the left lane, overturned and went into a canal. Both were killed in the accident. Police are looking for the vehicle left in the road.
• On March 2, 19-year-old Stevie Nicole Painter was driving on I-95 after leaving the Best Buy store in Fort Lauderdale where she worked when she was cut off by another car. She lost control of her vehicle near the Interstate 595 exit ramp just north of Davie Boulevard. Her car flipped over, struck a large sign post and was killed.
Painter, a student, wanted to become a veterinarian. Her family has’nt been the same since the crash.
”The pain we are experiencing now is as fresh as the day of the accident,” said Todd Dupell, Painter’s uncle. “The fact that someone saw something and hasn’t said anything breaks my spirit.”
“Someone out there knows something.”
While law enforcement officers continue to investigate these fatal motor vehicle accidents, the victims’ families are finding it difficult to move on.
Vaden’s family created a memorial in their home with pictures, memorabilia and flowers.
They burned into ashes the few remains that were left. The only thing intact was a lock of her golden-blond hair.
”I raised my kids to have a good life,” Michael Vaden said. “It breaks my heart that my family is suffering so much.”
While most of us could not conceive of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident after hitting another car or worse, a person, there are clearly some in our part of the world who are compelled to do so adding insult to terrible injury. As it is, the untimely or wrongful death of a loved one causes tremendous devastation to families.
Sadly, Florida injury lawyers cannot turn back the clock on this manifestation of gross negligence and indifference to human life, but we can obtain needed medical, psychological and monetary support for people who have needlessly suffered because of someone else’s negligence. We can and should also hold the responsible parties accountable through both our criminal and civil justice systems.
Anyone with any information about any of these hit and run accidents is urged to contact the Florida Highway Patrol.