The Florida Highway Patrol believes Sarah Jeanette Linares was driving a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee northbound on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County that struck and killed a Road Ranger around 1 a.m. on Oct. 26.
Linares, a Broward County resident, disputes that. According to a search warrant, an insurance claim filed by Linares’ father states the 28-year-old woman was miles away in Coral Gables on Oct. 26 when she was involved in a single-vehicle accident at 12:30 a.m.
FHP investigators found the Jeep on Monday afternoon at the home of Kenneth Michaelis, Linares’ father, in Southwest Ranches after receiving a tip from the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle is registered to Michaelis. Neighbors of Michaelis allowed troopers to enter their backyards where the Jeep could be seen parked between two other vehicles, according to the warrant.
Troopers observed right front damage to the Jeep.
Told that a crash investigation was being conducted, Michaelis “immediately stated that he needed to speak with his attorney,” the warrant said. Michaelis returned a few minutes later to say that his attorney, Richard Perlini, advised him not to speak with investigators.
Perlini could not be reached for comment. The search warrant allows investigators to collect DNA evidence from the Jeep that could connect it with Linares and/or Arnold Metellus, the 59-year-old Road Ranger killed in the crash.
Metellus, of Boynton Beach, died after he was struck while standing by the open driver’s-side door of a disabled Dodge Charger, which was parked on the east shoulder of northbound I-95, south of Palmetto Park Road.
Cordel Lamar Brown, a Riviera Beach resident, told troopers that the hit-and-run driver stopped briefly, then took off, possibly exiting on Palmetto Park Road. Brown and a passenger in the Dodge Charger sustained minor injuries.
Metellus, the father to three sons, worked for Lake Worth-based Anchor Towing, which has a contract with the Florida Department of Transportation to provide Road Ranger services. Metellus had worked as a Road Ranger since 2011.
FHP officials held a news conference last week to display parts recovered from the crash and belonging to the hit-and-run vehicle, which investigators narrowed down to a 2005-2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. FHP spokesman Sgt. Mark Wysocky emphasized during the news conference that the Jeep sustained significant right front damage.
Records show that Linares has been cited for four traffic violations since 2006, including a ticket for reckless driving in Leon County in 2006. Linares was also cited for possession of liquor by a person under 21 years of age in September, 2004 in Leon County.
The person who struck and killed Metellus is facing a mandatory minimum of four years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a fatality.