Esteban Larranaga, Danny Villanueva, and Jose Companioni assisted in the production of this video.
“How many more lives must be lost before something is changed?” That was the question on everyone’s mind at the Lost Lives of Krome Memorial on Saturday.
The Lost Lives of Krome Foundation was formed by Rita Rodriguez, a Miami local whose son, Anthony Rodriguez (a Columbus graduate), passed away due to a tragic accident on Krome in January. Anthony wasn’t the first victim of the road, however. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, Krome Avenue was the site of 1,800 accidents between 2008 and 2012, including 28 fatalities, an average of at least five fatalities a year. And in just six months, there have already been 12 fatalities in 2014.
Unlike those who lost loved ones in the past, Rita Rodriguez was determined to make her son the last casualty of Krome. Fueled by her grief, Rita founded the Lost Lives of Krome Foundation and immediately went to work creating petitions, doing interviews, and organizing events.
One of the many events scheduled by Rita was the Lost Lives of Krome Memorial, in which 115 individuals (whose records were readily available) were remembered. The event was a huge success with the Florida Highway Patrol bringing several educational attractions including: a simulation of drivers not wearing their seatbelts when spiraling out of control, a collision simulation for attendees to ride, and an interactive 18-wheeler filled with statistics and other information regarding driving under the influence.
The lively music was provided by DJ Sonic C’s (Anthony’s stage name) former partners: The Casa Brothers, otherwise known as: Lewis Martinee and Ruben Cardenas (fellow Columbus graduates). The duo spoke fondly of their former partner calling him one of their best friends as they recalled past times recording and performing together.
Columbus graduates weren’t the only attendees however; along with the many volunteers were the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who set up their own booth along the side of the road. Sally Matson was the representative present for the Mothers who passed out educational pamphlets and recounted her own losses on Krome for those who passed by.
While all of these events were occurring, Rita was lobbying. After a hard day’s work, she was successful in her attempts to reach the Florida Department of Transportation in Tallahassee. The representative swore to look into the demands brought up by the foundation and now the plan to rework Krome is finally moving forward.
Despite this great victory, however, Rita doesn’t plan on slowing down. With several more events being planned, the battle to put down “Killer Krome” is only just beginning.