Crime

He built a good life. It was ended by a suicidal driver who veered into Miami traffic, cops say

Suicidal driver kills Miami patriarch

Maria Escorcia speaks about her husband, William Escorcia, who was killed by a suspected suicidal driver in West Kendall, Miami, in September 2018. The driver, Anca Cristescu, was charged with vehicular manslaughter on April 22, 2019.
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Maria Escorcia speaks about her husband, William Escorcia, who was killed by a suspected suicidal driver in West Kendall, Miami, in September 2018. The driver, Anca Cristescu, was charged with vehicular manslaughter on April 22, 2019.

William Escorcia came to Miami from Nicaragua in the 1980s with just $800 in his pocket. After working various jobs, he founded a small electrical contracting company that flourished. That success allowed him and his wife to buy a home in West Kendall, where they raised three children, all of whom went on to graduate from college.

But that thriving family was shattered in September when a woman named Anca Cristescu, police say, suddenly veered her car into oncoming traffic, hitting Escorcia’s car as he drove to his weekly golf outing.

Cristescu, 38, was not drunk or texting. Instead, Cristescu told officers “she wanted to die” and may have accelerated into oncoming traffic on Southwest 157th Avenue in West Kendall “in an attempt to end her own life,” according to an arrest warrant. Escorcia, 63, was killed in the wreck.

Miami-Dade prosecutors this week formally charged Cristescu, who remained jailed Tuesday on a charge of vehicular manslaughter. A native of Romania, she will be allowed to stay on house arrest with an electronic GPS ankle monitor while awaiting trial.

Cristecu appeared in court for arraignment on Monday, as her lawyer entered a plea of not guilty. Escorcia’s grief-stricken family watched from the gallery.

“I feel like my light went off because of what happened to him. I miss him every day. He was the light of the house,” said Maria Escorcia, his wife of 40 years.

Escorcia was born and raised in Nicaragua, where he was a member of the national volleyball team in the mid-1970s. He also earned a degree in electrical engineering. He and his wife, Maria, emigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s as Nicaragua was wracked by political unrest.

In South Florida, Escorcia started out small. He worked first as a gas-station attendant, then did construction jobs. Finally, in 1996, he established his own electrical company, WEA Electrical, starting with one work desk in the corner of his bedroom.

As the company began to do electrical wiring work across South Florida, including for many schools and office buildings, it expanded to 37 employees.

His three children in Miami: Elsa Alfonso, 41, Julio Escorcia, 36, and Emily Escorcia, 26. All three graduated from college. He also had another son, Fernando Escorcia, who lives in Nicaragua.

“He was so proud. He felt like his life’s dream had been accomplished,” Maria Escorcia said.

William Escorcia, his family said, had boundless energy — he loved tending to his garden, reading biographies, and working out at the gym. He also picked up golf about five years ago and quickly became addicted, golfing twice a week.

The crash happened on Sept. 1. Escorcia had just had breakfast. Just after 7 a.m., Escorcia left his house to drive to the Redland Golf and Country Club, where he was to play his usual round with friends.

He drove his Mazda CX9 up Southwest 157th Avenue around 28th Street, a two-lane stretch of road in a residential neighborhood.

That’s when Cristescu, driving a blue Chevrolet Sonic, veered her car “directly into the path of oncoming traffic” and Escorcia’s car, according to the arrest warrant. Escorcia’s Mazda smashed into a guard rail and rolled over. Cristescu’s Chevy hit a concrete wall.

Miami-Dade police officers rushed to the crash scene. As they tried to help her, “she became irate and began screaming that she wanted to die,” according to the warrant by Miami-Dade Detective Jonathan Mesa.

Cristescu repeated it to a Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue paramedic, saying “she accelerated into the other lane of traffic,” the warrant said. Although she was not hurt physically, Cristescu was hospitalized because of her “erratic” behavior. She was not immediately arrested.

Toxicology tests showed she was not on any drugs or alcohol. But an analysis of her car’s computer “black box” revealed she was driving at 68 miles per hour just two seconds before the impact with Escorcia’s car — nearly twice the posted speed limit.

Cristescu, accompanied by her lawyer, later spoke to police and denied she had any medical or psychiatric issues before the crash. “She drove with a willful and wanton disregard for other persons or property, and as a result, the victim was killed,” Mesa wrote.

She lived near the crash scene. Little was known about Cristescu’s life or what may have driven her to the cusp of suicide. Her attorney was not available for comment on Tuesday.

Since the crash, Escorcia’s family has struggled to grasp why Cristescu took the family patriarch in an apparent botched suicide.

So have others. Over 500 people showed up to the funeral, according to the family.

Said Maria Escorcia: “I was so surprised to see so many people who loved him, to see how much of an impact he had on the lives of others.”

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