Two good Samaritans stopped their vehicles and attempted to help a man that was terribly injured but apparently still alive, lying on a Dania Beach thoroughfare just before 4:30 in the morning.
Bernard Williams, 62, of Dania Beach turned out to be a homeless man, according to a report issued by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Why he was lying in the road when a car struck him is unknown, but a sheriff’s deputy recognized him when he arrived at the scene where the man was still lying in the road, clinging to life. The police officer had seen the homeless man around the vicinity on numerous occasions. Tests also revealed that the victim’s blood alcohol level was 0.22 which a medical examiner said “could impair a person’s normal faculties.”
The hit and run took place at the 1200 block of Federal Highway on June 5 in front of Cyber Pizza Cafe. He was later pronounced dead at the scene by fire rescue.
When police began their investigation, it was a surveillance camera from a neighboring business that was credited with showing a vehicle moving in a southerly direction on Federal Highway (US1) around the time Mr. Williams was struck. The car was then identified as a white taxi which proved to be owned by Yellow Cab which serves South Florida cities in that area. After the taxi was identified, authorities asked the company for a list of the drivers who were operating their cabs at the time.
Examining the suspected vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department uncovered fatty tissue fixed to the undercarriage of the cab as well as the front bumper exposing chips in the finish of the paint. During Williams’ autopsy, a similar fragment of white paint was found on the victim’s chest that ultimately established a match to the vehicle.
From the taxi company’s records it was determined that Michael Brandt, 58, of Hollywood was the driver of that cab at the time of the crash. The Broward Sherriff’s Office obtained a warrant for his arrest on October 15. He was subsequently arrested and charged with the crime of leaving the scene of an accident w/death, which is a first-degree felony. He is facing charges of vehicular homicide mostly due to the circumstance that he fled the scene. Brandt originally told detectives that he was in the Hallandale Beach and Hollywood area at the time of the incident but lab analysis samples obtained from the vehicle matched Williams’ DNA, confirming that the vehicle in question was in fact the taxi that struck him, and was clearly being driven by Brandt at the time.
According to the report filed, investigators said Brandt had to have more than a slight idea that he had collided with something due to the “severity” of the crash. Brandt “did know or should have known that the incident would have or could have caused injury or death to a person.”
Myrtle Corbin, the victim’s sister told the Sun Sentinel newspaper shortly after he was run down that her brother was homeless and living on the streets for more than 20 years. She noted that he opted to live that lifestyle in spite of him being in touch with relatives.
Her statement to the news reporter was “I never dreamed he would go this way. I just know that he doesn’t have to suffer through what he was going through in this life anymore… I feel the person who did it needs to be reprimanded in some way, or at least admit that you did it.”
According to the Broward County Clerk of the Court’s Website, Brandt is still in custody and his case is pending. Judge Raag Singhal will preside over the case if it goes to trial.
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