BOCA RATON — Ramiro Gomez gave his father, Jaime, a kiss every morning when he left home in Deerfield Beach and kissed him again when they reunited at night.
“He was a great soul,” said his mother Marcela. “He gave me a good 18 years.”
His parents figured he was out for a typical evening of delivering for DoorDash and hanging out with friends when police knocked on the door early Sunday with horrible news: Their son had died in a car accident in West Boca Raton. Two of his 13-year-old passengers were also dead. Five others in the car were seriously injured, and two adults in a Mercedes-Benz were also killed.
Gomez, who was about to graduate from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, started driving a year ago, his mother said. His driving record shows one minor infraction for failing to stop at a red light before turning right. He had two older sisters and a younger sister, who live in Brazil and Spain.
Gomez’s parents are planning his funeral at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Deerfield Beach. They said they didn’t know how their son’s seven passengers ended up in his car early Sunday morning.
“When you’re a kid, you get your first car, you like to drive everywhere,” Marcela Gomez said.
“There were no fights. He was a great kid,” she said. “I hope you see my angel as we do.”
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Gomez’s 2013 Hyundai Genesis had eight young people aboard — two in the front and six in the back — and was speeding eastbound at 12:35 a.m. Sunday on Camino Real near the intersection of Sanibel Drive when Gomez lost control.
The Hyundai spun and veered on to the median, slammed into a concrete light pole and rolled into the westbound lanes of Camino Real before landing upside down on a 2014 Mercedes-Benz C250.
The Mercedez-Benz had been heading west on Camino Real.
All of the six passengers in the back seat of the Hyundai were thrown from the car.
Besides Gomez, two 13-year-olds, Brielle Snowden and Sebastian Rivas, both of Boca Raton, were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Brielle was an amazing young lady,” said Marie Karl, 8th grade school counselor at Boca Raton Community Middle School. “She was loved by many and will be missed dearly. Blessed to have known her and been her school counselor.”
Snowden’s best friend, Juliana Passarelli, told the Sun-Sentinel: “Brielle was my best friend. She was the only person I trusted with everything and the only person I knew I could always talk to. Brielle was the kind of girl that would bend over backwards to help anyone without even hesitating. She was the kind of girl that lit up a room and made everyone smile as soon as she walked in. She was the kind of girl that always made everyone laugh. She was the kind of girl many people aspired to be like. Brielle was such a beautiful beautiful girl with such a pure beautiful soul that I was so lucky to call my best friend. She is such a light to everyone and she will be dearly missed by me and everyone else who loved and cared about her. What happened to her is absolutely terrible. She did not deserve it. Brielle deserved the world.”
The family of Sebastian Rivas came to the scene Monday morning to lay flowers and comfort one another.
“Everybody loved him,” Sebastian’s mother, Juliana Alvarez told WPEC-CBS12. Alvarez said Sebastian frequently brought friends over for dinner.
“He made everybody feel like brothers and sisters,” Sebastian’s friend, Joey Balsamo said. “He gave so much love.”
Friends say the teen enjoyed music, cars, and hanging out with his loved ones. His sister described him as a protector and a source of comfort.
“He always helped me when I was down,” Amelie Rivas, Sebastian’s sister said. “He never wanted me to get hurt and always used to protect me. He was such a great brother.”
The five injured children are from Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
The 58-year-old driver of the Mercedes-Benz and his 55-year-old passenger were taken to Delray Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead. Their names have not yet been released by the Sheriff’s Office.
For many who have lived in South Florida a long time, the accident has an eerie resemblance to a crash in West Boca in 1996. Seven middle-school students squeezed into the back seat of a Honda Civic, agreeing to leave a bowling alley with two older teens. The Honda’s driver careened west on Palmetto Park Road at 90 mph, hit a median and slammed into an oncoming car, causing the young passengers to be thrown from the Honda’s rear window.
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Four girls and one boy were killed. The identical twin of one of the deceased survived with serious injuries. A seventh youth was paralyzed.
“It’s the same story,” the father of the twins, Irv Slosberg, said on Monday. “Unfortunately, children think they’re invincible.”
Slosberg, a former state representative, now chairs Dori Saves Lives, named for the twin who died in the crash, which works to pass traffic safety legislation and educate kids about responsible driving. The twin who survived, Emily, is a state representative who focuses on traffic safety issues.
“I’m not aware of any other time such a similar accident has happened,” Emily Slosberg said on Monday. “I got elected to try to ensure something like this never happens again. The state does not fund traffic safety awareness, and we need to have more of a focus on that.”
Sun Sentinel staff writer Susannah Bryan and WPEC CBS-12 contributed to this report.