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Parents of teens who died after the car ended up in a canal during a police chase sues the City of Homestead

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(AP Photo/Natalie Behring)

Homestead, FL– The parents of two of three teens who died when the car they were in plunged into a canal during a police chase, have decided to sue the City of Homestead.
The parents of 14-year-old Rihanna Vargas and 14-year-old Terence Valdivia filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city nearly two years after the teens died.
According to a press release from The Mosely Firm and Lett Law Firm, the parents are suing the City, alleging that the teens were chased down due to a minor traffic infraction and that once the vehicle was in the water, non of the officers attempted to render aid to the teens.
“Three of the teenagers tragically lost their lives at the hands of Homestead police because the driver allegedly committed a minor traffic infraction,” attorneys said in a statement.
The incident began at around 3:00 a.m. on February 13, 2021.
Officer Belinda Ramirez attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the teens after noticing that they failed to come to a complete stop before making a right turn near 1200 NE 8th Street.
Instead of stopping the vehicle, the four teens fled the area. Officer Ramirez reported that she eventually lost the vehicle but another officer, Sergeant Ryan Khawley, located the black 2019 Toyota Camry on E Palm Drive and continued the pursuit at a high rate of speed.
The teen driving the vehicle eventually lost control of it, mounted a curb, and went airborne.
The vehicle hit several trees before ending up in the canal.
According to the report, Terence was ejected from the vehicle while Rihanna became pinned in the backseat of the sinking vehicle.
Video from the scene shows officers holding flashlights over the canal but not entering the water as the vehicle continued to sink.
The vehicle was eventually pulled from the water following the teens’ deaths.
When asked about the lawsuit, the Homestead Police Department reported that they do not comment on pending litigation.
“Our Hearts and condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased,” Capt. Fernando Morales, a Homestead police spokesperson said. “As (is) customary with open litigation, The Homestead Police Department will not be making any comments until its completion.”