The dean of Keiser University's business school died Wednesday after he was run over by his own vehicle as it was towed away.
Elias Konwufine's vehicle was parked on the grass of the Sienna Green Condos and he saw the tow truck with his car, say police. A driver for Capitol Towing, a company contracted by the complex to tow away illegally parked cars, arrived about 6:25 p.m. Wednesday to the apartments.
"Cars on the street, they'll tow your car, and it wasn't in the street. He had nowhere else to go so he parked on the sidewalk," said witness Cheazan Banton.
Police say Konwufine, 39, jumped onto the tow truck and yelled at the driver.
When he got down, the tow truck driver began pulling away. Witnesses say he sped up.
"Held on to the driver's side door of the tow truck to defend himself because he would have been hit otherwise," said Banton. "He held on about two to three houses down and then the car that was being towed ran over his body."
Police say Konwufine was run over by his own vehicle as it was being towed.
Konwufine was transported to a nearby hospital as a precaution. He died two hours later.
"He didn't deserve to die like this. This is outrageous," said Francesca Mbah, a relative of Konwufine.
Lauderhill's traffic homicide division is investigating.
Capitol Towing was unavailable for comment.
"I think something needs to be done with this tow truck people. I mean like, you just take the life of a family man like that in a split second," said Mbah.
On Thursday night, Konwufine’s neighbors met at a homeowners' association meeting to express outrage over Konwufine’s death and ask the board to dump its contract with the tow truck company.
Devin Stewart and Audry Parrish explained how the HOA contracted with the company to keep their community safe but instead feel terrorized by what they call “aggressive” behavior by its drivers.
This includes incidents involving drivers pulling tasers and guns on residents and not taking proper documentation before towing cars, said Stewart.
Neighbors also claim the same driver involved with Konwufine’s death pulled a gun on one of his friends just last week.
Stewart told Local 10 they’ve taken their grievances to the HOA Board, the Property Manager and even police.
Local 10 contacted Lauderhill Police who told us they will be looking into those complaints. We were unable to reach property managers Thursday night.
Local 10’s Neki Mohan and Christina Vazquez left messages for the tow truck company, which included detail of neighbors’ allegations of repeated incidents of aggressive behavior on the part of its drivers, but did not receive a return phone call.
Stewart said no one should ever die over a parking violation.
He’s hoping their HOA will drop its contract with the company and want police to charge the driver in connection with Konwufine’s death.
Capt. Rick Rocco explained how right now the case is considered a “tragic accident” but the Department’s traffic homicide detectives are now investigating. Sgt. Rocco did not have the tow truck driver’s name.
On Thursday night, neighbors also discussed how they can help his family.
From Cameroon, Stewart explained how Konwufine’s wife and three young children plan to transport his body to Africa for a burial there.
Meanwhile, Keiser University Chancellor Dr. Arthur Keiser issued a statement, saying: "Keiser University is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Elias Konwufine, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and treasured member of our Keiser University team. Dr. Konwufine touched and positively shaped the lives of his students, alumni and colleagues in special ways, every day, and collectively our hearts remain heavy as we cope with this tremendous loss. On behalf of my family and the entire Keiser University community our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time."