Jacksonville mother, 1-year-old killed by suspected drunk driver while visiting Tennessee

A Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood is mourning the death of a woman and her child after learning the two were killed in an accident involving a suspected drunk driver in Chattanooga, Tennessee over the weekend.

According to Chattanooga police, 41-year-old Ana Rodriguez, her husband Octavio Devia, and their 1-year-old son Jonathan Devia were visiting Chattanooga when they were hit while walking on the sidewalk of Frazier Avenue — a very tourist-driven area — by an out-of-control minivan that later crashed into a building.

Police said 44-year-old Randy Vega, of Tampa, was driving under the influence along Frazier Avenue when he collided with a truck before leaving the roadway and striking Rodriguez and her family.

Business owners on the Northshore strip say it happened so fast.

“I heard the tires, and I got up because I thought it was going to come into this building. As I turned around, it was a blur. I heard the crash,” business owner Geenie Truit said.

“We felt the building shake like an earthquake, and we heard a big boom,” business owner Jessica Dumitru said.

Rodriguez and her 1-year-old son died at the hospital. Her husband was listed in critical condition.

Vega was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said once Vega is released from the hospital, he will be booked into the Hamilton County jail on charges that include two counts of vehicular homicide by impairment, aggravated vehicular assault by impairment, DUI, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving.

Neighbors expressed why they enjoyed having Rodriguez and her family around.

“They were good neighbors. They were sweet people. They looked out for you if they could when they could. They cared about you. They were just as friendly as they can be.  I mean from a different culture, in a neighborhood of majority blacks, they were family,” Wesley Harris said.

It was heartbreaking for Bre Robinson to learn about Rodriguez and her son’s deaths.

“I saw some lights down the street. My kids and I drove by, and we looked at the lights and said, ‘Oh, everybody in there has the Christmas spirit.’ It’s that time of the year,” Robinson said. “When something so traumatic like that happens, it’s really hurtful and sad.”

Harris said he wants to attend Vega’s trial.

“It’s sad. That’s all I have to say about it. I’m really upset,” he said.

Rodriguez’s older daughters who live in Jacksonville also went to Chattanooga to be at the hospital with Anna’s husband.

A GoFundMe was created to help with any financial costs in the family’s time of need.

Rodriguez’s brother-in-law Adolpho Devia Paz said he spoke at Tuesday night’s city council meeting in Chattanooga. He talked about making the sidewalk where his loved ones were killed much safer from vehicle traffic.

“You have the power to honor my family. You have the power to prevent other accidents. That’s what I ask you, to prevent other accidents,” he pleaded with the council.

People who spoke at the meeting said the sidewalks along Frazier Street are too narrow and offer little protection to pedestrians.

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