City police are trying to determine whether mechanical failure was a factor in the multivehicle crash that killed a family of four Saturday night in Delray Beach.
And it could take months before investigators know what caused the wreck, a Delray Beach police spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Jorge Claudio Raschiotto, 50, of Argentina, his sister, 42-year-old Veronica Raschiotto of Mexico, and her two children, Diego Martinez Raschiotto, 8, and Mia Martinez Raschiotto, 6, were killed when their minivan was struck by a pickup shortly before 7:30 p.m. Saturday on South Federal Highway south of of Linton Boulevard.
Witnesses estimated a Chevrolet Silverado driven by 21-year-old Paul Wilson Streater was going at about 100 mph when it swerved to avoid traffic ahead of it and rear-ended the minivan waiting to turn east the into Tropic Isle community on LaMat Avenue.
A passenger in Streater’s vehicle posted Monday on Facebook that the pickup’s gas pedal “was stuck wide open. It all happened so fast.”
Streater’s attorney, Sam Halpern, said Tuesday that his client tried to brake before the crash.
“My client didn’t press down the accelerator,” Halpern said. “I don’t know what caused the unintentional acceleration, but it was clearly was an instance of unintentional, sudden acceleration.”
Delray Beach police spokeswoman Dani Moschella did not address that claim, but said the department’s traffic homicide investigators will inspect the vehicle for any indication of mechanical issues.
Police have stressed that the investigation remains active and arrests, if any are made, would not come until the investigation is complete
In response to questions from the public, the police department Tuesday posted a response on Facebook explaining why fatal car crashes rarely result in an immediate arrests.
“There is a lot of investigative work to be done before an arrest,” the department wrote. “From the beginning, investigators are mindful of the possibility of an eventual trial in a court of law.”
The department noted that several factors must be considered in its investigation, including the condition of the vehicles involved, the condition of the drivers, environmental conditions and physical evidence.
Investigators also must recreate the crash scene, the department’s Facebook posting said, and the results of blood draws could take a month to process.
Streater cooperated with investigators and was released at the scene. Halpern said that Streater was not drinking and was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
Halpern said Tuesday that Streater was “100 percent” devastated over the crash.
“His heart goes out to the families and the friends of the people where killed in this tragic accident.”
Jorge Claudio Raschiotto’s colleagues at the National University of Lomas de Zamora, a public university in Buenos Aires, remembered him Monday in a post on the social science department’s Facebook page.
Dozens of former students posted messages of condolences on the page while others expressed shock and disbelief.
“Super sad news,” posted Andrea Michel in Spanish. “He was an excellent teacher, who was very passionate about his work. He transmitted that passion to all of his students. Rest in peace.”
According to Timing Politico, an Argentine news website, Raschiotto had traveled to Florida to visit a sister who was not involved in the crash.
“He will always be remembered for his constant struggle for public universities and his quality as a person and teacher,” according to a statement released by Raschiotto’s faculty colleagues.
The family has asked for privacy and has said it is not giving interviews.