In a tragic accident in Washington D.C., a Lyft driver and his two passengers lost their lives after their vehicle was struck by an SUV fleeing a traffic stop. The SUV had accumulated over $12,000 in unpaid traffic fines, sparking questions about why it was allowed on the road.
Olvin Torres Velasquez, 23, and his long-time friend, Jonathan Cabrera Mendez, had just finished watching a soccer match and were heading home in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Their Lyft driver, Mohamed Kamara, 42, was transporting them home when the accident occurred on the Rock Creek Parkway.
The SUV, which was evading a traffic stop, collided with the Lyft vehicle. This crash killed all three occupants in the Lyft driver’s car. The SUV’s driver and passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to local hospitals.
The SUV had preveiously been cited for several traffic violations, with most of the fines being for speeding. This has ignited a debate about whether the city should take more stringent action against repeat traffic offenders.
Leslie Torres, Velasquez’s cousin, expressed outrage over the accident and questioned why authorities hadn’t taken action against the SUV’s driver.
In Washington D.C., when a police officer issues a traffic ticket in person, the driver can accrue points on their license, potentially leading to its suspension. However, if the violations are captured by a traffic camera, as was the case with the SUV, the vehicle owner must pay fines but can retain their license.
Mohamed Fofana, Kamara’s brother-in-law, called the fatal accident involving a habitual traffic offender “a lapse in the system” and expressed his hope that no other family would have to endure such a tragedy.
Leslie Torres shared that the grieving family was struggling to cover the cost of sending Velasquez’s body to Honduras and was waiting for more details on the investigation.