ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol troopers have been actively looking out for street racing in the Central Florida area after seeing an uptick in the illegal activity.
This weekend, in addition to an Osceola County crash tied to street racing that killed an 11-year-old girl, troopers arrested three people accused of street racing activity, according to troopers.
One pedestrian was injured in a crash on Goldenrod Road caused by street racing, FHP Lt. Kim Montes said.
At 1:37 a.m. Thursday, FHP troopers responded to the crash on Goldenrod Road and Alachua Street. Troopers said there were significant tire marks on the road through the left lane on SR 551 to the sidewalk. A pedestrian on the sidewalk suffered a broken leg when the vehicle crashed into the area, according to the report.
Troopers were first told Jorge Garcia Santos, 22, was the passenger and his girlfriend was driving, however, they later determined that was not true and Garcia Santos was behind the wheel, according to the report.
Garcia Santos had broken glass on his left side, where the driver’s side window had broken during the crash, troopers said.
Witnesses told troopers Garcia Santos was engaged in street racing on Goldenrod Road when the crash happened.
Garcia Santos is charged with resisting arrest, reckless driving resulting in serious injury and giving false information to law enforcement. According to the arrest report, he was on probation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
During a separate incident, a driver and passenger were arrested after troopers say they were seen street racing on State Road 417.
According to the arrest report, around 11 p.m. Friday, troopers spotted a black Ford Mustang as well as several other vehicles lined up on SR 417. A passenger in the Mustang stuck his right arm out and made a “chopping” motion, according to the report. As soon as that happened the vehicles began to accelerate rapidly.
Troopers initiated a traffic stop and arrested both the driver, Ricardo Vazquez Miranda, 20, and the passenger, Alejandro Armando Narvaez, 23. Both were booked into the Orange County Jail. They are both charged with misdemeanor moving traffic violations.
What are troopers and elected officials doing about street racing?
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes said troopers have consistently responded to the increase in street racing over the past year doing overnight operations and bringing in auxiliary troopers to cover more ground.
“Troopers were noticing the uptick in the number of street racers they were hearing about, so they were basically trying to shut these events down, get to them, shut them down before anyone could get hurt,” Montes said. “We have written hundreds of tickets for the last year, year and a half, for drivers illegally modifying their vehicles.”
And troopers confiscated several cars involved in street racing.
“The problem is people partaking in this kind of activity are not fully understanding the risk they’re taking and the danger they’re putting the general public in,” Montes said. “On Friday night we had a family that was just trying to get back home on U.S. 192, totally doing nothing wrong, and they are involved in a crash, where an 11-year-old is killed and two women were seriously injured. At this is what we’re trying to prevent.”
Montes said FHP often coordinates with sheriff’s offices and police departments, but they need the public’s help, too.
“I think it’s a group effort amongst law enforcement and the community, because we need the community to call in when they see these things and not just assume someone else is calling in so we can get there and shut it down,” Montes said. “A lot of this is just spontaneous, not at a planned event, where everybody’s already there and it’s shutdown. They’re doing it at any available point on a roadway, and it’s spontaneous so there’s no way to know where exactly they’re going to do this. That’s why we need - if you witness something, especially if you witness a crash, we need witnesses to articulate what they saw the driver is doing in order to prove street racing.”
Orange County District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore said city and county leaders can help deter street racing by adding speed bumps and trees where possible.
“...Because what we’re doing is not solving the problem,” Moore said. “And it is mainly a Law Enforcement issue, but there are things that the citizens and municipalities can do. We really need the citizens to call. When they hear the street racing, they have to immediately call law enforcement, and it has to be more than one of them. And if it is happening every night they have to get up and call every night.”
Moore also suggested taking a hard look at the drivers who are getting caught and investigating if licenses are handed out too easily.
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who represents Osceola County, sent this statement to News 6:
“The street racing accident this weekend in Osceola that killed a local 11 year old girl was a tragedy beyond words. We must all understand when we get behind a wheel, we take our lives and the lives of others into our hands. Please remember others and drive safely. I passed bills enhancing street racing penalties when in the state legislature, including revoking licenses and increased jail time. While criminal traffic laws are a state issue, our American Rescue Plan has provided the State of Florida, and local cities and counties, with over $17B to ensure no cuts to state and local law enforcement. This provides more resources to help keep our streets safe.”