Woman accused in hit-and-run has checkered driving history
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 8:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 8:27 p.m.
OCALA - The accused hit-and-run driver in a fiery accident that killed an Ocala mother and son on Interstate 75 Sunday has a checkered driving history.
Lanessa N. Riobe, 25, was arrested in August 2011 for DUI in Osceola County. She was found guilty and given a year of probation, which she violated earlier this year. In October, she was given an additional nine months of probation for the violation, and her license was revoked for six months.
In 2008, Riobe was cited for careless driving in Orange County, failed to pay the fine and had her license suspended. She also had a speeding citation out of Osceola County.
Now, she is facing her most serious charges. On Monday, Riobe was in the Marion County Jail, being held without bond. She is charged with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with a death and one count of causing serious injury while driving with a suspended license.
Riobe is accused of clipping the back bumper of a 1993 Honda Civic carrying four members of the Maldonado family early Sunday morning near County Road 484 on I-75.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the Honda spun out of control, hit the guardrail and bounced back onto the highway. Riobe, driving a 2010 Toyota Corolla, didn't stop. A short time later, a 2006 Peterbuilt tractor trailer barreled into the Honda. The vehicles burst into flames, killing Eliezer Soto Maldonado Jr., 12, and Deborah Maldonado, 35. Eliezer Sr., 34, and his daughter Ana Deliz Maldonado, 10, were able to get out of the car before it was hit a second time.
On Monday, the impact of the deaths of the mother and son reverberated around the community.
At the boy's school, Howard Middle School, extra counselors were brought in to work with the students and staff shaken by the deaths.
"We did have teachers sending up several students who needed some help. We had a number of teachers who were also upset," said Paula Hart, assistant principal at Howard.
Robert Hensel, Howard's principal, said Maldonado was a good young man and stayed out of trouble.
"Some of his closer friends were upset, but they have begun the grieving process along with the rest of us," he said.
Rita Skinner, who worked with Deborah Maldonado at Carquest Auto Parts, said everyone at work also was upset.
"She was a great person. She was a great Christian woman," Skinner said. "She was a sweet girl and a great mother and all that... She had a sweet spirit, always a smile on her face."
Skinner remembered how Maldonado styled Skinner's hair for the recent company Thanksgiving dinner.
"Deborah was the type of person that liked to get fixed up. She was always trying to help me in that regard," she said.
Eliezer Sr. and his daughter were not seriously hurt in the accident. He could not be reached Monday. Maldonado has family in Puerto Rico. His father, Wilberto, posted a family photo of the four on his Facebook page Monday announcing the death.
Riobe was caught after she had car trouble and was stranded about 20 miles north of the accident, near the County Road 318 exit.
"The car was stopped in the fast lane with its hazard lights on and the lady was standing right in front of the car," said the man who reported the stalled car and would only give his name as Martin.
"I pulled over on the right side shoulder and she said she was out of gas and asked if I could give her a ride to a gas station," Martin said.
He was said he was unsure of giving a stranger a ride at 3 a.m. Instead, he said he would call law enforcement to help her out.
"That's when she got a little panicked," he said. "She kept asking me to just drive her to a gas station."
Eventually, a Marion County Sheriff's deputy arrived and kept Riobe on the scene until the Florida Highway Patrol responded and arrested her.
"I'm sure glad I stopped. Someone else might have given her a ride and she could have gotten away," Martin said.
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