The family of a man who was killed by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 95 on Saturday has more questions than answers about what led up to the deadly crash.
Norman Mello, 42, was headed south on I-95 on his motorcycle Saturday evening. That’s when Florida Highway Patrol said Varissa Vargas, 20, was driving the wrong way in the express lanes between State Road 836 (Dolphin Expressway) and Highway 112.
A SUV was just about four car lengths ahead of Norman’s bike and swerved to miss Vargas’ car. Troopers said Norman had no time to react and was hit head on. His body went through the windshield and into the back seat of Vargas’ car where he died.
Vargas was taken to the hospital with injuries troopers described as “serious.”
Mello’s older brother, Scott, said Norman was heading to South Beach on his Saturday routine when the accident happened.
“He would meet a group of guys at the Blue Fin down there, motorcyclists,” Scott Mello said. “They would have dinner then come back to Fort Lauderdale to 2nd Street and hang out and have coffee and people watch.”
Scott said that while motorcycles were a passion of his brother’s, his real devotion rested with boats. Norman operated the largest travel lift in Florida at Lauderdale Marine Center. Scott said it afforded Norman the opportunity to touch many lives.
“We’ve had calls from captains out there in Spain, overseas in Europe; they were just devastated and they want to be aware of when services are performed so they can fly back for it,” Scott said.
According to Trooper Joe Sanchez of the FHP, they are trying to narrow down how Vargas' car, an Acura TL, got on the highway going the wrong way in the first place.
"We're looking at possibly SW 7th Street, maybe the 836 entrance ramp on 12th Avenue," Sanchez said.
Scott said grief is now suppressing the anger of losing his brother.
"I wish no ill at this point in my life," Scott said. "I just wish that people, if they decide to drink or do drugs, do it in the safey of their house and don't get on the roads."
Sanchez added that investigators have sent Vargas' blood tests to the lab to determine if she was impaired while behind the wheel.