Group gathers to change "red light" law

Posted at 3:07 PM, Jun 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-04 15:45:38-04
About a hundred people gathered at Al Lopez Park on Saturday morning for a "Walk for Justice."  The walkers were there to raise awareness about red light runners.
"Think twice, because in the blink of an eye you could change lot of lives," said Angelique Cruz.
She and her boyfriend Carlos Rodriguez were looking forward to their daughter Angelys' first Christmas.
“We had so much anticipation for her being here,” Cruz said.
But Angelys didn't make it.
“The last six or seven months have been really rough,” said Rodriguez.
On May 19, Cruz and her sister, who were both pregnant, were running errands. They were preparing for their joint baby shower when their car was t-boned by a work truck. Four witnesses saw the truck run a red light at the intersection of Waters Avenue and Twelve Oaks Boulevard.
According to the accident report, the driver of the truck never hit his brakes, smashing into the car at about 40 miles per hour, knocking it across multiple lanes of traffic and into a utility pole, where the women were trapped.
“I thought she was dead, actually, seeing her stuck in the car like that and then being carried out,” said Rodriguez.
Cruz was knocked unconscious.
“At impact, my placenta detached, so my daughter was basically without oxygen,” Cruz said.
Baby Angelys was delivered by emergency C-section, but died before her mother woke up three days later.
“It was really, really hard,” said Cruz, who woke up to find out that her baby had died.
She was able to hold her for a few minutes to say goodbye.
Cruz's nephew, also born by emergency C-section, spent two months in the neonatal intensive care unit, but survived.
Felix Villavicencio, who owns Cuban Tree Services in Tampa, was the driver.
He was cited for running a red light.
Villavicencio barely speaks English, so his wife helped with the translation. He denies doing anything wrong.
“The two ladies maybe were not looking for a big truck,” he said.
Villavencio's driving record shows it took him three tries each to pass the signs and rules sections of his driver's test, and it took four attempts for him to get his commercial driver's license -- allowing him to drive large trucks.
He has been cited for 11 traffic violations, including running three red lights since 2007.
He received a traffic ticket for the crash that led to the baby’s death.
“I would have thought involuntary manslaughter, some type of court action,” said Rodriguez.
“In order to charge him with vehicular homicide, he had to be reckless driving,” Cruz said. “And, in the state of Florida, running a red light is not reckless driving.”
Cruz hopes to change that.  Melissa Wandall is hoping for change.  Her husband, Mark Wandall, was killed by a red light runner in 2003.
"She got a five-hundred dollar fine and community service and that's the reason why I had to try to prevent a way to stop red light running before it happens," said Wandall.
Click here to sign a petition to change the red light law.