ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA – An Orange County deputy caused the crash last summer that killed a 91-year-old man who was on his way to the hospital for his daily visit with the sick and dying, the Florida Highway Patrol said Friday.
Deputy Malinda Miller, 28, will lose her driver’s license for at least six months, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes. Miller is accused of speeding — going 86 mph in a 40-mph zone — and failing to use her emergency lights or siren.
Both are civil traffic infractions — not crimes, Montes said.
Because the crash was fatal, Montes said, the deputy will automatically lose her driving privileges for six months. A judge could suspend her license for a year.
The crash happened at 5:35 a.m. Aug. 17. Miller was racing north on Magnolia Homes Road in west Orange County to a suspicious-vehicle call when she plowed into the Buick driven by Ed Soistman. She did not have on her emergency lights or siren.
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Soistman had just stopped at a stop sign, then pulled into the intersection.
If the deputy had been driving the speed limit, Highway Patrol Cpl. Albert Pratts wrote in his final report, there would have been no crash. And if she’d had on her lights and siren, Soistman might have seen or heard her coming.
The trooper blamed the crash solely on Miller.
She tried to avoid it, Pratts wrote. Troopers found 89 feet of skid marks and clear signs that she veered to the left.
She suffered minor injuries and went to Orlando Regional Medical Center that day. When troopers tried to question her there, she said no, citing the advice of a lawyer, according to Pratt’s report.
Miller returned to work shortly after the crash. She was given the traffic tickets Friday, Montes said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Angelo Nieves said that his agency will now move forward with an internal investigation.
Miller remains a road patrol deputy, but on Friday she was moved to a desk job, an assignment she’ll have while her license is suspended and the internal investigation is under way, Nieves wrote in a prepared statement.
The crash, Nieves said, was a tragedy.
Soistman, known as “Fast Eddie” to friends, died of blunt force trauma to his head, neck, torso and limbs, according to Pratt’s report.
He was a former Martin Marietta Corp. executive who every day went to local hospitals to visit the sick. That morning, he was en route to Florida Hospital Orlando, according to the Highway Patrol.
He joked with hospital patients, prayed with them and gave them communion, said friends.
He was a lay minister at St. John Lutheran Church in Winter Park and kept a list of people to visit, people who were too sick to leave their homes, the church reported.
Soistman served for more than three decades on Orange County’s Children and Family Services Board and was often a visitor at Greater Oaks Village, a group home for abused and neglected children.