Kendall Campus Student Dies After Car Crashes With Garbage Truck

Ilena Gonzalez and friends setting up a small memorial for Eric Gonzalez.
Memorial: Ilena Gonzalez, right, and friends set up a memorial on SW 87th Avenue and 48th Street for her son, Eric Gonzalez on Feb. 29. Gonzalez died Feb. 24 after colliding with a Waste Mangement truck.

Eric Gonzalez, 20, never made it home.

“I kept calling him and texting him but he wouldn’t answer,” said his mother, Ileana Gonzalez, 50. “I was so worried. I found out that he had left his cell phone at a friend’s. I just never knew that he not answering meant he was in trouble.”

Gonzalez, who was a student at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus, died Feb. 24 in a car crash after being pinned under a garbage truck.

He died on impact after his 2008 Nissan Altima collided with a Waste Management garbage truck, according to Tom Pikul, spokesman for Florida Highway Patrol.

Ileana, who took classes with her son at MDC this semester, said he was on his way home from celebrating a “B” on a microeconomics exam when the crash happened.

“That night he begged me to go to the beach with his friends to celebrate,” Ileana said. “I would have had to handcuff him for him not to go.”

For four hours, Gonzalez’s body remained inside his crushed car at the scene, Southwest 48th Street and 87th Avenue, Pikul said. Miami-Dade County rescuers couldn’t extract his remains. The Nissan had to be towed to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office, where it was dismantled. Cranes had to be used to clean up the scene.

“There was no way to even get to him on scene,” Pikul said. “At around 10 a.m., he was taken to the medical examiner’s office while still in his vehicle. They took the car apart there.”

William Agreda, 59, the driver of the 2003 Freig Roll-off garbage truck, was on his daily route when the crash happened. He suffered minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital.

Just before the accident, Gonzalez was traveling west on Southwest 48th Street while Agreda was driving south in Southwest 87th Avenue’s outside lane, Pikul said.

Gonzalez violated Agreda’s right of way by traveling into the intersection — he did not yield at 48th Street’s flashing red light, Pikul said.

Dawn McCormick, spokesperson for Waste Management Inc. of Florida issued the following statement: “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased. The accident is under investigation by Miami-Dade Police. Our driver, who was treated for minor injuries and released, and our Safety team are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

The Gonzalez family will be represented Paul Layne, an attorney for Silva & Silva Law firm.

“We are fully investigating the accident and trying to see if this could have been prevented,” Layne said. “All this boy wanted to do was finish school.”

Gonzalez, an accounting major, spent most of his time going to the gym and staying fit, his mother said.

“He had the biggest arms,” his mother said. “I would always tease him and show him off to people. He always blushed.”

Friends described Gonzalez as kindhearted, genuine, fun, gentle and funny. He enjoyed swimming, baseball, football and bowling. He also liked skateboarding, snowboarding and rollerblading.

“Kids were like magnets to him,” Ileana said. “He was so family oriented and loved so much. He and his brother Max were so close, best friends.”

Gonzalez was the type to “never say no,” she said.  He would always pick up medicine for others and take his family to doctor’s appointments.

His mother said she always had to remind Gonzalez to “slow down.” She said her son wanted to “grow up so fast.”

“He always wanted to experience different things,” she said. “Always living life to the fullest. So I don’t know, maybe somehow he kind of knew why.”