"I had no idea it was my car:" Owner of car in deadly crash didn't realize his vehicle was involved

Ahmedal Modawi is accused of driving Johntel Lewis' car and doing donuts before crashing and killing three valet men

Miya Shay Image
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Owner of car in deadly crash 'had no idea it was my car'
As the families of the three men killed in a horrific crash plan their funerals, the owner of the car in the crash is speaking out for the first time.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the families of the three young men killed in a horrific crash last week plan their funerals, the owner of the car involved in the crash is speaking out for the first time.

Last Friday night, Johntel Lewis drove to Café Mawal to meet friends for a birthday dinner. He remembers specifically pulling up to the restaurant and handing his keys over to the valet service.

"He asked for the keys and he was like, 'The keys?' And I said, 'Yea the keys are right here,' and that's the last thing," recalled Lewis. "We were in there. We ordered food. By the time food came back, someone was dead. People came into the restaurant saying people were dead in the street. I had no idea it was my car."

Houston police allege 17-year-old Ahmedal Modawi drove Lewis's 2013 Infiniti to a nearby parking lot to do donuts. In an exclusive surveillance video obtained by ABC13, an HPD patrol car can be seen pulling into the parking lot adjacent to where the donuts were allegedly taking place. The car makes a circle and initiates a traffic stop.

Workers walking to their parked cars can be seen on video, starting toward the direction where the crash happened, near the Prospect Park entrance.

Investigators say Modawi crashed the car into Fnan Measho, Eric Orduna, and Nick Rodriguez. The three were all contract valet drivers for Prospect Park. They were killed in the crash.

SEE ALSO: 3 valet workers identified in deadly crash caused by reckless driver near sports bar Friday night

The car was so mangled in the crash that Lewis, upon seeing the accident scene, didn't even realize it was his car involved.

Modawi's family members drove away from our ABC13 cameras on Tuesday, but neighbors said they are upset about everything that's unfolded.

"It makes me nervous. Maybe it shouldn't but it does," said neighbor Melissa Fannin. "We [have] kids. It's just unsettling."

Café Mawal's representatives maintain that Modawi is not an employee, nor a contract worker for the restaurant. Prosecutors have pushed back on that, noting that the passenger in the car at the time of the crash had a valet logo shirt on when he was taken to the hospital. Café Mawal said it is working with its lawyers to clarify its position to police and prosecutors.

SEE ALSO: Teen charged with murder was in customer's car during crash that killed 3 valet workers, sources say

Meanwhile, Lewis still holds someone else's car keys. He said in the hours after the wreck, Café Mawal's valet service handed him an Infiniti car key, but it does not belong to his car. He has held on to the key because he said it's his proof that he ate at the restaurant and used the valet service.

Lewis has started a small GoFundMe to pay for transportation costs until his insurance can help him get a new car. He was set to start a new job this week, but that was put on hold because he has no transportation.

"I feel terrible for the families," said Lewis, who also frequented Prospect Park. "I'm pretty sure I saw them or they parked my car."

SEE ALSO: Valet worker killed in crash beat childhood leukemia only to die by reckless driver, loved ones say

Family members of Measho, Orduna, and Rodriguez are planning funerals right now.

Meanwhile, prosecutors are continuing to investigate the case. Modawi has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday, but he remains hospitalized and is not expected to appear.

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