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DJ SonicC's Mother Wants To Widen "Killer Krome" Avenue To Prevent Future Deaths

Categories: StreetWorks

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Photo by Ricky Fraginals
Anthony "SonicC" Rodriguez
Anthony Rodriguez was a mama's boy. Known as SonicC, the up-and-coming local DJ was a music prodigy. Only 22 years old, he had already had his tracks featured in Grand Theft Auto and on popular TV programs. But his mother, Rita, had always kept him grounded. So when SonicC's curfew approached in the early hours of January 19, he ducked out of a bonfire party early, climbed into the passenger seat of a Chevy Cavalier, and headed home.

As his buddy Gabriel Hernandez drove north on narrow Krome Avenue near SW 144th Street, however, an oncoming car suddenly swerved into their lane. The automobiles collided in a fiery explosion. Hernandez and Rodriguez both died. The driver of the other car, Erick Betancourt, broke both of his arms. His 15-year-old sister, Gisele, never made it out of the inferno.

Rita Rodriguez knew her son was dead long before highway patrolmen had a chance to tell her. "I'm an old Cuban mom," she says. "I don't sleep at night. I started texting him around 2:30 to ask him if he was on his way. There was no answer. That's when I knew something was wrong."

See also: Miami's DJ SonicC and Two Others Killed in Krome Avenue Car Accident

Now Rita is trying to make something right by leading a fight to widen Krome Avenue to prevent other fatal crashes.

"Everyone knows it's been called 'Killer Krome' for years," she says. "This is not a new problem. This is an old problem that has never been taken care of."

The night Rodriguez died, Hernandez's mother called Rita around 6 a.m. and told her to turn on the TV. When she saw smoldering cars on the screen, her stomach sank.

"He was very special," she says of her son. "He was outside-the-box smart, like Nutty Professor-style." When Rita would try to punish him by taking away his computer, Anthony would protest: "Mom, that's my career!"

Then, when he was just 17, his song "Stickin' " was selected for the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto. Rita realized her son had been serious all along. The next year, he signed for L.A. record label Dim Mak and began going by "SonicC."

For weeks after his passing, Rita remained in shock. But soon her son's tragic fate was joined by others.

"There have been two more deaths this month," she says. "So far in 2014, including my son, there have been six deaths on Krome. These are not just statistics. They are family members and friends."

A friend of the Betancourts started a Facebook page called Fix Krome Avenue that has garnered more than a thousand members. A Change.org petition calling for wider lanes and more street lights has drawn 7,536 signatures so far. Rita has now launched the nonprofit Lost Lives of Krome Avenue to lobby for action.

Last week, Rita met with Florida Department of Transportation officials. They told her that two obstacles stand in the way of widening Krome: a lack of funds and environmentalists' opposition to encroaching on the Everglades.

"I love the environment, but I think saving lives is more important than saving trees at this point," she says. In the meantime, she hopes FDOT can install lane dividers to prevent more collisions like the one that claimed her son's life.

"He was my baby boy," she says of SonicC. "Now I feel like I'm missing a part of me."

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26 comments
memarias
memarias

This hazardous public roadway has over the years unfortunately claimed countless lives. How many more need to occur before this roadway is finally updated and made safe for all of the motorists which travel on it.

In respect to all of those which have had family members and friends die on  this roadway lets always remember them and hopefully All collectively work together to finally put an END to the human carnage which has repeatedly been occurring on this hazardous public roadway by voicing your support for the much needed safety roadway enhancements to your elected County, State and FDOT roadways officials.

Enough is enough !

Mike Arias

Pro Bono Public Safety Roadway Advocate 

acrsworldwide
acrsworldwide

Guys, don't pay attention to Joseph, he doesn't live near krome and is full of it, he's a former VP from where? if he has any money left and had any brain cells, he would do something productive with it..Enough said about that! I live near Krome, the road is dark and narrow. So many people have lost their lives there. I pray that voices are heard and that something gets done quickly! we need to speak for those who no longer can. Anthony's dad is a friend of ours, both him and his mom need our support. It's the human thing to do!

yolyzbg
yolyzbg

This article is appreciated by all those who in one way of another were touched by this young man.  We will all continue to support Rita, Anthony and their family in this quest to bring a stop to the senseless tragedies that occur at Krome. 


Be it median barriers, stop lights, further lighting or widening of the roads, something has to be done!  This issue is simply about a Dangerous road which has had it's surroundings increasingly populated, and what happens, when we start to develop land?  Well, roads need to change to accommodate the traffic for the area, this is not a new innovative notion, this has happened throughout Miami Dade, remember when 8th Street  was swamp land?  I do!!!, It's growth was so huge that the DOT had to make 8th street 4 lanes.  


Therefore Krome, has to come into the 20th century, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will, therefore in order to hurry this process along, we have to work as a community to bring upon this change.  And we WILL do this no matter how long it takes, In memory of Anthony, and of all the other lives lost at Krome!  And we pray, these tragic deaths, do not have to continue to occur!   

yolyzbg
yolyzbg

Mr. Mazon.....All I have to say to you is.............................. BRING IT......THE POWER IN THIS PLIGHT IS IN NUMBERS........!  And we have that......!  And no doubt your fragile ego.....must have needed a surge today when you chose to go up against a woman who has lost her son!  your words speak volumes about your character, or better yet, lack there of Sir!@Joseph Mazon

emedina31
emedina31

I think this article is beautifully written and really depicts Anthony exactly as he was the mama's boy with talent and intelligence beyond compare. It takes great courage an perseverance to do what his mother is trying to do. Amidst her pain she is thinking of others and trying to spare other families the loss she has endured. Accidents happen every day, and they are just that "an accident" but when their is a road so close to home known as deadly Krome to the Highway Patrol something has got to be done!  This is a road that we frequent, that we don't feel safe traveling, and much less the thought of our children traveling on it. Some accidents are PREVENTABLE! Commercials telling us not to text and drive, the severity of drinking and driving so on and so on are done to PREVENT accidents, this is no different. This is a measure being taken to PREVENT accidents! No family should suffer such a devastating loss due to poor lighting, traffic lights, and an extremely narrow road! Rita " Obstacles are merely stepping stones that guide us to our goals." You have the support of your friends, family, community, Community leaders behind you and this WILL get done!

sillytia2
sillytia2

First of all, this article is supporting our family's effort to make changes on KROME AVE.  It's not about blame or bad drivers.  It's about giving ALL drivers better options and better tools to navigate this dangerous road.   The city/county had no idea of the impact this road would have when those involved agreed to put the road there in the first place.  Now there's consequences that must be dealt with, and there is accountability for its "side effects"... We cannot make ALL drivers - safe drivers - but we can improve the roads and do all possible to help ALL drivers on this busy road.   I lived in MIAMI over 45 years.  I photographed the wildlife in the Everglades for more than 15 yrs.   I support many groups who lobby to protect the Everglades.  The funds to make changes to KROME AVE were appropriated more than 4 yrs ago yet nothing has been done.  I've traveled up and down KROME AVE many times.  Be careful what you say when you don't know the person or the whole story.  HATRED never wins.    If there had been a passing lane or better lighting, maybe that young driver would have had better options. Even just a short passing zone, like in the Keys, or a few more lights WILL NOT hurt the flow of the Everglades.   You can blame the drivers if you like, that's your opinion.  But when you've lost a son, or in my case my nephew of 22 yrs,  your life is changed forever.  Anthony did not have hatred in his heart, he always was humble and had forgiveness in his heart.   It's not about who did what, we can't change that.....but WE CAN hope and push for changes to assist those "not so great drivers" instead of blaming them.   YOUR words are hurtful, especially to a young man who made the wrong choice, who maybe swerved because there was something in the road, but this young man will have to live with the death of his younger sister and two others for the rest of his life!   So please have some respect.  You don't KNOW ME nor anyone involved.   GOD BLESS YOU

nik.med18
nik.med18

This article was written to make individuals aware of what Rita is trying to do. We are all entitled to our own opinions however, sometimes some of those opinions should be kept within; especially when it's dealing with someone's grieving heart. Rita has lost her first born child and if you have never lost a child you will never know the feeling and emptiness she is going through. She is trying to find strength within herself to keep going--this is her way of doing so. We each feel strongly about some sort of cause. If it's not harming you personally, then why be so pessimistic and angered towards possible changes? 


Whatever changes may occur you will continue to go on with your life with out a skip in your step. Rita and her entire family will always be missing Anthony. 


#RIPSONICC

You are forever missed and forever loved. 

-Your big cousin, Nicole.




ratcheldelrio
ratcheldelrio

I live just two blocks from this street and fear for my husband's life as he takes it to work daily. I will support this family's efforts to save other families from experiencing losses. Krome is a deadly avenue that needs attention ASAP, too many lives claimed. How many lives will it take? better lighting is needed, streets must be widened, more police presence, etc.

Millie Santana
Millie Santana

Krome is NOT the problem, it's the drivers driving irresponsibly.

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

NOPE, let's leave Krome ave, just the way it is. Sorry for your loss. Can't blame a loss of life on a road though, just on the jerk that drove it. DO NOT TOUCH Krome Ave, I will oppose your efforts every single step of the way, with money and power you cannot bring to bear.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Yes to more lanes.

No to more stoplights.

Erick Betancourt should spend years in jail and never be allowed behind the wheel of a vehicle on a public road again.

Punish bad drivers.  Let the good drivers free.

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

Better yet, let's do away with cars to save the thousands of lives lost every year in car accidents.

Steve Lee
Steve Lee

Night or day, drivers speeding, on cell phones, texting, talking to passengers, eating and talking on cell phones are the ones who cause these deadly accidents-and all it takes is a split second to cross into the other lane.

sillytia2
sillytia2

@nik.med18  Well said Nicole.   SPREAD the LOVE!  Anthony will forever be in our hearts.    It's still hard to see his pictures, he's everywhere in my house and everywhere I go.   Faith and Love will help us all!!  Love ya !!

sillytia2
sillytia2

How ignorant of you to say.  You wouldn't think that IF YOU lost your son.  How insensitive!!   Look at US1 to the Keys....same issue..... IF ONLY there were a passing zone or better lighting to start......sometimes with the darkness of that road, It's hard to measure the distance of oncoming lights.  ACCIDENTS are just that, accidents.  MOST of these accidents on KROME AVE can be avoided with just a few improvements!!  God bless you, and never put you through what our family has suffered with this young life lost!

merl67
merl67

Not only are you ignorant, but it is a shame that money can't buy a heart and common sense...............see, money can't buy everything.  Unfortunately for you, Rita has a HUGE heart and a lot of common sense and with her angel Anthony, I can assure you that they will prevail.  God will provide and changes will be made.  I pray that you never have to experience a loss such as the one that Rita and her family are enduring, but rest assured that she WILL prevail. 

yolyzbg
yolyzbg

Mr. Mazon.....All I have to say to you is.............................. BRING IT......THE POWER IN THIS PLIGHT IS IN NUMBERS........!  And we have that......!  And no doubt your fragile ego.....must have needed a surge today when you chose to go up against a woman who has lost her son!  your words speak volumes about your character, or better yet, lack there of Sir!@Joseph Mazon

yolyzbg
yolyzbg

Mr. Mazon.....All I have to say to you is.............................. BRING IT......THE POWER IN THIS PLIGHT IS IN NUMBERS........!  And we have that......!  And no doubt your fragile ego.....must have needed a surge today when you chose to go up against a woman who has lost her son!  your words speak volumes about your character, or better yet, lack there of Sir!@Joseph Mazon

emedina31
emedina31

Your money and power may do much but they cannot buy you love, common sense, or the health and life of your loved ones. I pray you never have to endure a such a loss that your money cannot fix. Anthony's life (as well as numerous others, including the drivers sister) could have been spared if the road was safer. If there was better lighting and  more lanes. For this right to a safer road we will fight! Rita has the support of our community, friends, Commissioners and most importantly God. We will help her make the difference. As for your money and power, well, you know what you can do with it!  

sillytia2
sillytia2

How ignorant of you to say.  You wouldn't think that IF YOU lost your son.  How insensitive!!   Look at US1 to the Keys....same issue..... IF ONLY there were a passing zone or better lighting to start......sometimes with the darkness of that road, It's hard to measure the distance of oncoming lights.  ACCIDENTS are just that, accidents.  MOST of these accidents on KROME AVE can be avoided with just a few improvements!!  God bless you, and never put you through what our family has suffered with this young life lost

sillytia2
sillytia2

@Anthonyvop1   WOW, thats ignorant!  You don't know the whole story.  And no one knows what really made that accident happen.  I am SonicC's aunt and NO ONE in our family blames Erick Betancourt.   Yes its tragic, yes he swerved in the wrong lane, but frankly THAT could have happened to anyone.   BLAMING him is not bringing anyone back.  He will have to learn how to erase that night from his memory.  He suffered a great loss as well.   His family is suffering too.   SHAME on you!!  There is too much HATE out there already!!!   I'm an avid supporter of the Everglades, have been for many years.   There IS a way we can still protect the Everglades AND make this road a bit safer!!   So please watch your mouth, and think before you speak!

emedina31
emedina31

Better yet lets rid the world of ignorant people such as yourself and the world can be a shiny, happy place!

sillytia2
sillytia2

How ignorant of you to say.  You wouldn't think that IF YOU lost your son.  How insensitive!!   Look at US1 to the Keys....same issue..... IF ONLY there were a passing zone or better lighting to start......sometimes with the darkness of that road, It's hard to measure the distance of oncoming lights.  ACCIDENTS are just that, accidents.  MOST of these accidents on KROME AVE can be avoided with just a few improvements!!  God bless you, and never put you through what our family has suffered with this young life lost

emedina31
emedina31

This is true but when you have a local street that we frequent known as Deadly Krome to our Florida Highway Patrol something should be done. Losing lives due to poor lighting and not enough lanes is a preventable!

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@sillytia2 @Anthonyvop1  

" yes he swerved in the wrong lane, but frankly THAT could have happened to anyone."

In all my years of traveling up and down Krome it has never happened to me.

The fact is Betancourt failed to control his vehicle. Whatever the reason it is still his fault.  I am tired of the same old ideal of punishing those who can because of those who can't. 


I am also sure I have spent more time in the Everglades than you.  I grew up spending large amounts of my free time exploring the Glades and still spend time there.  I am not an "Nat-Geo" everglades lover who's limited experience is watching some Docu on TV or a bike ride at Shark Valley.

Widening on Krome will cause NO actual damage

sillytia2
sillytia2

@Anthonyvop1 @sillytia2  WOW....  I lived in MIAMI over 45 years.  I photographed the wildlife in the Everglades for more than 15 yrs.   I support many groups who lobby to protect the Everglades.  SO DON"T TELL ME about your FREE time in the Everglades.  Be careful what you say when you don't know the person or the whole story.  HATRED never wins.    If there had been a passing lane or better lighting, maybe that young driver would have had better options. Even just a short passing zone, like in the Keys, or a few more lights WILL NOT hurt the flow of the Everglades.   You can blame the drivers if you like, that's your opinion.  But when you've lost a son, or in my case my nephew of 22 yrs,  your life is changed forever.  Anthony did not have hatred in his heart, he always was humble and had forgiveness in his heart.   It's not about who did what, we can't change that.....but WE CAN hope and push for changes to assist those "not so great drivers" instead of blaming them.   YOUR words are hurtful, especially to a young man who made the wrong choice, who maybe swerved because there was something in the road, but this young man will have to live with the death of his younger sister and two others for the rest of his life!   So please have some respect.  You don't KNOW ME nor anyone involved.  SO glad YOU are so perfect!  GOD BLESS YOU

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