This past June 6, Miami Dade College French professor Bob Michel was walking across the Wendy's parking lot on Biscayne Boulevard at 79th Street. "I hear this incredible screeching, and before I know it, this thing was on top of me," he recalls. "All I saw was this big grille hitting me in the ribcage, and I'm being thrown to the ground."
The "thing" was a two-and-a-half-ton black Hummer H3. Michel landed on his left shoulder, he says, and his head hit the pavement. As Michel picked himself up off the ground, the squat muscleman driving the massive SUV jumped out and apologized. Michel says he responded, "You wait here -- I've got to call an ambulance."
That's when the driver jumped back into the Hummer and sped off, Michel claims. Bystanders took down its license plate number, but when City of Miami cops arrived, they made no effort to chase the hit-and-run vehicle, says Michel: "It was a chance to catch him and determine if he was drunk or high or whatever -- but they did nothing."
At the hospital, Michel took a tetanus shot to the head. He still
suffers from chest pain, he says, and is undergoing physical therapy
for back problems stemming from the accident.
A license plate search turned up 49-year-old Ricardo Farinas as the
Hummer's owner. His driving record includes tickets for speeding, twice
running a stop sign, making an improper U-turn, and parking his
behemoth vehicle in a handicap spot. And Farinas has two felony charges
on record in Miami-Dade County: one on a fugitive warrant from another
state and the second for committing public assistance fraud, for which
he was never prosecuted.
Cops took their time catching up with him. On July 28, Farinas was
charged with "failing to report an accident resulting in injury" -- a
traffic infraction. He pleaded guilty and paid $114. Case closed.
Now, Michel has taken to writing overwrought "fiction" about a
"friend" who was plowed over by an "oversize gas guzzler," only to find
that nobody cared. The pal is considering purchasing a .45 Magnum, the
professor writes, to "shoot out the tires" of the next "Macho Hummer
Boy" who tries to flee an accident scene.
But at his South Beach apartment, Farinas, his inflated arms
bulging from a basketball jersey, denies his vehicle ever touched
Michel -- and says he pleaded guilty because battling the charge "would
be too much trouble for a hundred dollars." Asked what would motivate
Michel to concoct the tale, Farinas replies simply: "Money, papa! I
think he wants money."
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The cops were of no help in parsing through this Hummer whodunit. A
Miami Police spokesman told Riptide they don't keep reports for traffic
infractions and never responded to a request for more details from the
officer on the scene.