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Victim clung to hood as van raced through Hialeah. Video shows why driver faces murder count

Newly released surveillance video capturing parts of the fatal incident underscores the harrowing reality of Norky Contreras Acosta’s final minutes.
Newly released surveillance video capturing parts of the fatal incident underscores the harrowing reality of Norky Contreras Acosta’s final minutes.
Newly released surveillance video capturing parts of the fatal incident underscores the harrowing reality of Norky Contreras Acosta’s final minutes. [ Photo from video (Miami Herald) ]
Published Jan. 30, 2020

Miami Herald

Norky Contreras Acosta gripped the hood of a van, desperately clinging on for life, as it sped wildly through the streets of Hialeah. After about eight blocks, she slipped off and was crushed to death in traffic.

As laid out in court documents, Contreras’ demise sounds appalling. But newly released surveillance video capturing parts of the fatal incident underscores the harrowing reality of her final minutes.

Prosecutors this week released the footage, which is now key evidence against Natasha Boothe, 22, the accused driver of the van.

Boothe, who remains jailed in Miami-Dade, is facing trial on charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. She’s pleaded not guilty. Her defense attorney did not return a request for comment.

According to Hialeah police, the case began on the night of Oct. 25, when Contreras and her family were driving a blue Volkswagen Tiguan on West 11th Avenue at 29th Street. A gold Chrysler van suddenly struck the Tiguan from behind, and kept going before stopping at nearby Happy Pawn Shop, 1085 W. 29th St.

Boothe was behind the wheel of the Chrysler van, according to Hialeah police.

The footage shows that the Contreras family pulled into the pawnshop parking lot to try to stop Boothe. The 42-year-old Contreras got out, and waited defiantly behind the van, leaning against the back of the vehicle with her arms crossed.

Then, the van reversed slowly, Contreas banging on the back window. The vehicle accelerated backward, briefly pinning her to a chain-link fence, the footage shows.

After Contreras “was able to escape,” according to an arrest warrant, she walked in front of the van “in a further attempt to prevent the driver from leaving,” the warrant said. As family members rushed over to help, the video shows, Contreras tried getting in through the passenger side door to stop the driver.

Then, the van accelerated, and Contreras jumped atop the hood to avoid being run over.

Natasha Boothe wasn’t supposed to be driving. Miami-Dade County court records show that her license was suspended on Oct. 7.
Natasha Boothe wasn’t supposed to be driving. Miami-Dade County court records show that her license was suspended on Oct. 7. [ Miami-Dade Corrections ]

Through Hialeah streets, the van made sharp turns, “breaking violently, speeding and driving erratically from left to right at high speed in an attempt to force the victim to fall from the hood,” according to the warrant.

The footage does not depict when Contreras flew off the hood at West 12th Avenue and 35th Street and was run over. She suffered “traumatic injuries throughout her body,” according to a warrant by Hialeah Detective Joseph Elosegui.

Contreras was later pronounced dead at Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Detectives identified Boothe through surveillance video from the pawnshop and witnesses, one of whom got the tag number of the van.

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Boothe wasn’t supposed to be driving. Miami-Dade County court records show that her license was suspended on Oct. 7 after she failed to appear in court on a traffic citation.