• Man charged with felony death by vehicle after fatal accident

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News is learning more about the Charlotte father who police say died after an accident with a drunk driver.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said that Reinaldo Rodriguez, 55, was driving his family down Reedy Creek Road in Northeast Charlotte when his car was hit nearly head-on by another driver.

    "I'm ill now. I was upset that Reinaldo passed away, but I'm ill that it was caused by a drunk driver, because it didn't have to happen," said Russell Rowe.

    Rowe said he lives across the street from the Rodriguez family in Northeast Charlotte.

    He said his daughter and Rodriguez' 16-year-old daughter Dahimi Pla are friends.

    He saw Rodriguez Friday night around 7:00pm and Rodriguez told him that he would soon drive his daughter Dahimi and his wife Maritza Rodriguez to Florida to visit relatives.

    "...they said they'd be leaving late last night after he took a nap." said Rowe.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the family's 2002 Buick LeSabre was headed down Reedy Creek Road when a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by 20-year old Steven Driggers crossed the center line and hit them.

    "I tried the best to keep his head from moving," said Mark Nahrstedt, a passerby who stopped to help.

    He lives less than a mile from the accident scene.

    He told Eyewitness News that Rodriguez was unconscious after the accident and his family was hysterical.

    He said he had hoped Rodriguez would survive, but police said he died on the way to the hospital.

    Driggers was charged with DWI, Driving after Drinking Under 21, Felony Death by Vehicle, and Involuntary Manslaughter.

    Rodriguez's neighbor said the crash left a family without a father and a close neighborhood with a huge void.

    "We were like family. My wife is from Columbia and they're from Cuba," said Russell Rowe.

    Driggers had minor injuries. He was treated and released from the hospital.

    Rodriguez' wife was treated and released from the hospital as well.

    The hospital didn't have any information on his daughter's condition Saturday.


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