A suburban Palm Beach Gardens man died and his wife was severely injured this month when a distracted driver traveling at 70 mph slammed into their stopped vehicle on Interstate 95 in the Space Coast, authorities said.
Harry Faber, 81, and his wife, Claudette, 80, operated the Riviera Beach Motel, on Broadway north of Blue Heron Boulevard, for decades. They were headed to their second home in Toronto on March 20 when the four-car wreck took place in Brevard County south of Melbourne, according to the Florida Highway Patrol and a neighbor.
“We’re all wondering what we’re going to do now that there’s no Harry,” Ken Link said Wednesday of his German-born neighbor and his French-born wife, citizens of Canada who lived part time in the Caloosa neighborhood off the Beeline Highway.
The driver who slammed into the other cars, Jinay Davis Ieisha, 22, of Cocoa, escaped serious injury, an FHP report said. Two small children in her car were unhurt, as were motorists in the two other cars, one of whom was a suburban Boca Raton man.
“The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending,” FHP Lt. Kim Montes said Wednesday.
According to the report, the crash occurred at about noon March 20 on northbound I-95, about a mile south of Micco Road in southern Brevard County. The location is about 80 miles north of West Palm Beach.
Northbound traffic had slowed because one lane had been closed for construction just to the north. Faber’s 1999 Chrysler 300 was in the left lane when Ieisha’s 2008 Kia Sportage “failed to slow” and rear-ended him, the report said.
It said Faber’s car slammed into the back of a 2012 Honda CRV driven by Marco Fraticelli, 72, from the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire, Quebec, pushing it into a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander driven by Han Bing, 44, of suburban Boca Raton.
Both Ieisha’s car and Faber’s spun and struck the median guard rail, the report said.
The report says Ieisha was “inattentive” and “operated (the) motor vehicle in (a) careless or negligent manner,” but doesn’t elaborate.
“The young lady was definitely distracted-driving,” suburban Ocala truck driver Michael Renner said Wednesday. “She never hit the brakes. The brake lights never came on.”
Renner said his 18-wheeler was stopped or nearly stopped, as were all the cars, when the woman “came flying by me” and “just drove right into” the other cars. He said that right after the wreck, he maneuvered his rig cross-wise to block traffic until authorities could arrive.
Palm Bay Fire Rescue said in a Twitter posting that its firefighters tore open the roofs of some of the cars in order to “disentangle” occupants.
The Fabers were taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Harry by trauma helicopter and Claudette by ambulance. Harry was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m. Claudette suffered what the report described as “incapacitating” injuries. She was listed Wednesday in “good” condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Ieisha was taken to Palm Bay Hospital with what the report described only as “non-incapacitating” injuries. A hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday she was not at the facility.
The two passengers in the second row of Ieisha’s vehicle were 4-month old Alyah Davis and 2-year-old Alaine Waller. The report does not say their relationship to Ieisha.
Marco Fraticelli and Han Bing were not hurt, the report said. It said the Fabers and Ieisha, and all the involved motorists, wore shoulder and lap belts, except the two children, who were strapped in car seats. Front air bags deployed in all cars except Han Bing’s.
The report said Ieisha was not tested for alcohol or drugs and the use of neither was suspected. It said blood was drawn from Faber for an alcohol test.
Calls to a phone listed for Ieshia were met with a busy signal. Calls to numbers for Faber’s son Chris and daughter Sabrina were not returned.
Link, a retired civilian engineer for the U.S. Air Force at Pratt & Whitney, said Wednesday the Fabers’ son and his son were classmates at Palm Beach Gardens High School. He said the couple owned and lived in the motel in Riviera Beach and that Harry later built by himself his home in Calusa about 15 years ago. He did not know when the Fabers sold the hotel. It later became the Harbor Lights Inn. The city said Wednesday it’s now a vacant lot.
“They were very nice people,” Link said of the Fabers. “Their friends are all missing them.”
Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.