Distraught family members, who had called police a day earlier because a teenage girl didn’t return from her usual early Saturday morning jog, made a horrifying discovery late Sunday afternoon.
Not far from the shoes and cellphone her uncle first spotted near some shrubbery on the 79th Street Causeway was the body of 16-year-old Dayana “Diani” Gomez.
“I was screaming ‘Get up Diani! Get up. Please, get up,’ ” the girl’s uncle Dennis Gomez told WPLG Channel 10.
Miami police, who at first refused to even give out details on the clothing Dayana was wearing because they said they suspected foul play, later in the day determined that Dayana had been killed during a hit-and-run some time early Saturday morning.
“It’s still a homicide,” said Assistant Miami Police Chief Armando Aguilar Jr. “But it’s a vehicular homicide.”
Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo tried to clear up any confusion when he addressed Dayana’s death after a press conference concerning another matter at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Monday afternoon.
Acevedo said Dayana — as she usually did — set out for a run from her Upper East Side Miami home at about 6 a.m. Saturday. At 8 p.m. that evening the family called police to say she had not returned. She was found near the guard rail on the north side of the 79th Street Causeway not far from Pelican Harbor Marina at 5:40 p.m. Sunday.
Acevedo said his department actually received a call from someone saying a person might have been hit by some type of gray car on Saturday morning, but that police were unable to find a body. The chief said the car would likely have sustained heavy damage to the passenger side windshield.
“We know that someone saw the car in that vicinity,” he said.
“This is a tragic moment beyond words,” Aguilar Jr. said. “Crime scene detectives are poring over the crime scene and interviewing witnesses and family members.”
Family members went live on Facebook asking for help in catching whoever struck Dayana, and a GoFundMe page has been set up.
Police partially shut down westbound traffic in the area into early Monday. Anyone with information should call Miami Police Traffic Homicide at 305-603-6525 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.