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Driver sought in fatal hit-and-run crash that killed 3 in North Bay Village

Memorial grows for North Bay Village hit-and-run victims
Memorial grows for North Bay Village hit-and-run victims 02:58

MIAMI - Neighbors quietly gathered Tuesday, heartbroken they say a mother and her two children died in a hit-and-run crash the night before.

"Because I'm a mother. I'm a grandmother. Like Cindy, I came to this country working hard for a future. She did the same from Dubai," said Estrella Garcia Ramos.

Ramos organized the vigil outside homes at Harbor Island. She was joined by other neighbors sharing grief in the tragedy.

"Yesterday was a shock. Now, I think it's more reflection and realizing what happened here and the lives that were lost," said Chris Joly.

Although the accident has been cleared, charred crosswalk signs, bushes and marks on the road from the fatal crash remain. Makeup and a toy rest in the burned bushes.

Longtime-area resident Maria Garcia vividly recalled when the cars collided.

"I could hear the scratch of the tires and hear the boom when the car hit the poll when the car hit the poll where we push the button to cross the Causeway," she said.

The accident happened before 9:30 Monday night on the 79th Street Causeway just east of the bridge linking North Bay Village with Miami.

Surveillance tape from a nearby gas station shows a vehicle going at a high rate of speed and then crashing in the distance. A car bursts into flames. Another man's dash cam video shows the fatal collision right in front of him as he backs up to avoid the fire.

Police say two people died at the scene, while a third did not survive after being transported to the hospital.

"Because of one stupid driver, driving on our street that the max is 35-40," said Ramos.

Miami-Dade Police released the name of the person of interest. His name is Julius Bernstein. He's 24 years old with a criminal record dating back to 2016.

"I hope eventually they catch him. That was terrible for this community," said Garcia.

Police are asking for any information about Bernstein's whereabouts.

For the neighbors, they said the corner now serves as a painful reminder of a mother and her two girls killed by one reckless driver.

Call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477) with any tips. There is a reward of up to $5,000 in this case.

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