Sunday, March 15, 2009
Updated: March 16, 8:06 AM ET
Reyes was leaving work when he died
ESPN.com news services
MIAMI -- Mario Reyes was a family man, a loving husband and father. He came to South Florida from Cuba as a teenager and became an overnight crane operator in Miami.
Still, his family said he couldn't afford a car and was forced to take the bus to work. Saturday, police said he was killed when a Bentley driven by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth collided with him on a causeway linking Miami and Miami Beach.
Reyes was headed to the bus stop.
"He spent all his free time with his family," Reyes' brother-in-law, Francisco Fajardo, told The Associated Press on Sunday. "He was on his way home."
Reyes had worked all night at his job with the shipping company Bernuth Agencies, located just feet from the crash. The phone rang unanswered at the company on Sunday.
His family and co-workers said he had clocked out only minutes before the accident around 7 a.m.
"When the time came for him to leave, he grabbed his stuff and headed to the bus stop out front," co-worker Renier Calana told The Miami Herald. She worked with Reyes unloading cargo containers from the Port of Miami.
"We could hear the impact," she said. "We all ran out, and he was lying there unconscious in the middle."
Reyes, 59, was near a crosswalk but it's unclear if he was crossing legally. Police said Stallworth has not been charged and was cooperating with the investigation. Officers drew blood to test for drugs or alcohol, which is routine. Results from the test could take anywhere from three days to three weeks, authorities said.
Stallworth likely faces charges after the investigation is completed, Yahoo! Sports reported on Sunday night, citing sources close to the investigation.
A 50-second amateur video posted with a news story on The Herald's Web site shows emergency workers tending to Reyes and a police officer giving Stallworth a field sobriety test, scanning the air with a laser pen in front of the receiver's face.
"Oh, no they not? They not saying nothing's wrong with you?" a man can be heard asking at the beginning of the video.
While police were investigating the crash, Reyes was taken to a trauma center.
His family was notified after he arrived, told only that "there had been an accident." Rushing to the hospital, they could only hope and pray for the best.
"When we got there, it was too late," Fajardo said. "He was gone."
As his family tells it, Reyes was like so many other Cuban-Americans in Miami.
He was born in Cuba and left the island as a teenager for a better life in the U.S. He couldn't afford to go to college, and instead paid the bills by working numerous construction jobs.
Reyes was an avid baseball fan, particularly fond of the local Florida Marlins and his native country Cuba, which is competing in the World Baseball Classic tournament now. He often spoke of growing up in Cuba, and loved to tell stories of the "old days."
Reyes leaves behind his wife of almost 20 years, Catalina, and the couple's 15-year-old daughter, Daniela. They live in a southwest Miami home owned by Fajardo, which they share with his family.
Reyes' wife and daughter were too distraught to speak Sunday.
"Our family is in shock," Fajardo said. "They don't really want to talk."
Police would not say where Stallworth, 28, was coming from or where he was headed. A message seeking comment was left on the voicemail of his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The Browns said in a statement they were aware of what happened but would not comment until the investigation is complete.
Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns as a free agent before last season but hardly played because he was hurt. He was scheduled to receive a $4.75 million signing bonus Friday.
Stallworth, who previously played for New England, Philadelphia and New Orleans, finished last season with just 17 catches for 170 yards. He was slowed all season by a nagging hamstring injury and made just seven starts for the Browns.
Stallworth had his best season with the Saints in 2005, when he made a career-high 70 receptions for 945 yards and seven touchdowns. He was drafted in the first round (No. 13 overall) by the Saints in 2002. Stallworth played college football at Tennessee.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.