saturday night accident on the Causeway

Memorial Mass for Paul Rafetti this evening; meanwhile, driver who allegedly caused accident charged with three counts of DUI.

Friends and neighbors of Paula Curra Rafetti, who died from injuries caused in an accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway Saturday, are honoring the Key Biscayne mother of two today with funeral services and a Memorial Mass.

A wake for Paula, who was 46, was held earlier today at Ferdinand Funeral Home in Miami, followed by a funeral at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery at 11411 NW 25th Street, Miami. Tonight at 7:15, there will be a Memorial Mass at St. Agnes Church in Key Biscayne.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, you may make a small donation in memory of Paula to Fundación Hermanos de la Calle. You may do so by clicking here.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a young mother charged with causing the deadly accident Saturday appeared in a Miami court to hear the charges against her.

 Jessica Fuentes, 23, is charged with one count each for Driving Under the Influence Serious Bodily Injury, Driving Under the Influence, and D.U.I/Damage To Property or Person. She is accused of running into the rear of a car driven by Paula, causing the Rafetti car to roll over and flip onto a fence.

Paula's husband Diego was also in the car but not seriously injured. Police say that just prior to the accident Fuentes had left work at Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill.

Appearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer, Fuentes' mother appealed for mercy, saying her daughter, who has a 1-year-old child, had never been in trouble before   and that this was a "freak accident."

Assistant Miami-Dade State Attorney Laura Adams countered, however, saying it’s not an accident "when somebody has twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system and causes another person’s death."

Fuentes is being held  on $75,000 bond.

Since the accident, the Key Biscayne community expressed their concern on various social media channels. A blood donation drive was organized at St. Agnes Church to assist with the emergency treatment she was receiving.

Saturday's accident, which happened near to Rickenbacker Marina in Virginia Key, blocked access onto and off of the island for about 8 hours while officials investigated. Close to a thousand people ended up stuck in their vehicles, unable to move until the causeway was reopened at 4 a.m. Sunday.

Causeway accidents and long traffic delays are a reality for Key residents. The Key Biscayne police department is going to work with Miami and Dade police officials to address the issue with new policies.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey tweeted Sunday that area police agencies will be working to find solutions to recurring closures of the causeway, the only vehicular entrance and exit to the island.

And KBPD Chief Charles Press stated that all concerned residents' voices were heard:

“I have reached out to the two other chiefs for a chiefs-only meeting to discuss permanent alternative plans for incidents (which block access to the island). By reaching directly to the chiefs we can create policy that officers must follow. I will work with county causeway authorities to implement the best type of plan possible for different areas of the causeway.”

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