Last December, 18-year-old Angel Lazo stopped his Honda Civic in the right lane of a remote stretch of U.S. 27 so notorious for drag racing that its grassy medians are peppered with homemade monuments to crash victims. Lazo's friend, 18-year-old Raymon Garcia, stopped his Integra right behind Lazo.
Moments later, a semi plowed into the stopped cars, killing three teenage passengers in a horrifying wreck. Despite initial police suspicions that drag racing contributed to the crash, prosecutors have decided to only issue Lazo and Garcia common traffic citations.
Lazo, in a post-accident interview from his hospital room, told New Times he'd had car trouble. "I was not racing but having car trouble and I signaled (Garcia) to get behind me and pull over," recalled Lazo.
However, investigators now say the teens stopped because they'd missed the turnoff they were looking for. Either way, Placid Ferdinand, a 42-year-old truck driver, couldn't steer his 18-wheeler around the stopped teens and hit them while traveling more than 60 mph.
Killed in the crash were Dairon Ledesma, 15, and Ileana E. Mira, 19, of Hialeah, and Anthony Perez, 19, of Miami.
In news stories the next day, the Miami Herald and others speculated that racing may have contributed to the accident. But after a 10-month investigation, prosecutors determined on Friday that illegal street racing did not play a role.
"There is no evidence that these two drivers ... were participating in or aiding any drag racing at the time of the crash," prosecutors write in the memo, which you can read in full below.
So instead of criminal charges of vehicular homicide or manslaughter, Lazo and Garcia face only traffic infractions of "stopping on a highway."
"While the act of stopping on the highway may be considered a negligent act, it does not rise to the level of criminal conduct," prosecutors write.
An attorney representing Lazo and Garcia didn't return an email seeking comment on the prosecutors' decision.
Here's the Broward prosecutors' final memo on the case:
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