The families of two down-and-out men killed by an out-of-control luxury car have been awarded a joint $2.2 million, lawyers said Tuesday.
Police say Alyza Rachel Russell, 22, was driving drunk when she fatally struck the men with her mother’s 2012 Porsche Panamera in downtown Fort Lauderdale in June.
Broward Boulevard and Southwest Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Fl.
The men killed — Mackendy Jules, 30, and Samuel Artez Martindale, 35 — were known in the homeless community and were regulars at a non-profit center that helps the homeless.
Jules’ father, Jean Jules, 48, said the money from the settlement likely will not change his life too much. He said he’ll continue to work as a chef at two Fort Lauderdale restaurants.
“I’m living my life the way I’m supposed to,” he said. “Money is not what I’m working for.”
As for Russell, Jules said, “I would like her to serve the community, to tell the kids about drinking and driving and what could happen.”
About 2:15 a.m. June 13, Jules and Martindale were in a parking lot frequented by the homeless — at Broward Boulevard and Southwest Fifth Avenue — when both were struck and killed by the Porsche driven by Russell, authorties said.
Russell was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter, unlawful blood alcohol level manslaughter and other DUI-related offenses, records show.
A red-light camera in Fort Lauderdale recorded the Porsche as it plowed through the bushes and into a parking lot, said David Nuñez, who represents Martindale’s family.
Although the criminal case still is pending, the families of Jules and Martindale pursued a claim in their wrongful deaths, according to Nuñez and James Hannon, who represents the Jules family.
Instead of moving forward with a lawsuit, lawyers negotiated a settlement in late August, they said. How the $2.2 million will be divvied up by Jules’ and Martindale’s families is confidential, lawyers said.
Russell’s mother, Charlotte Russell, owns the Porsche, and her insurance company agreed to pay $2 million, the lawyers said. In addition, the Russell family agreed to pay $220,000, they said.
Nuñez said the settlement was preferable to a drawn-out lawsuit.
“A human life is priceless,” Nuñez said. “But when you put things in perspective, it was in the best interest of the family to take this settlement and turn this page and move forward.”
Robert Zarco, a Miami attorney who represented Russell, confirmed that a deal was reached. He declined to discuss the award amount.
“The family is very sorry about the incident, a tragic accident that affected many lives, including that of Alyza Russell,” he said. “However the family has, in fact, entered into a fair and reasonable settlement with the family of the victims.”
Toxicology reports showed that Russell had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 — more than double the legal limit — when the crash happened, police said.
She was described as “stumbling and wobbling as she walked,” the arrest report said.
According to an arrest affidavit, Russell and her two passengers, Stephanie Anne Kocell and Daniel Alexander Wong, went out drinking for nearly three hours prior to the collision. They visited bars, the report said.
Wong told investigators that he told Russell to slow down, the arrest report said.