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18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

Old 02-06-2005, 09:39 PM
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Default 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

PATRICK MAY and REINALDO RAMOS Miami Herald Staff Writers Wednesday, February 4, 1987

Aronow, 59, who won two world powerboat racing championships and went on to breed and race horses, was hit by four or five bullets fired from a car that pulled up beside his on Northeast 188th Street, behind the Loehmann's Shopping Center.

According to witnesses, both drivers stopped in the road, facing opposite directions. Aronow rolled down his window, spoke a few words and was shot. The other car made a U-turn and disappeared.

The engine and air conditioning of Aronow's white Mercedes were still running when Bobby Moore, one of his longtime friends, reached him. "He had rolled the window down on the driver's side and apparently the guy opened fire on him at close range," Moore said.

"I could see that one of the bullets had gone through the car door. There was so much blood on him, it was hard to tell how many times he had been hit, but I could see he had been shot in the neck and jaw."

The motive for the killing was not known.

"I've been with him so long, I'd know if there were any problems," said Patty Lezaca, Aronow's secretary and office manager for 15 years. She notified Aronow's wife, Lillian, who was at Mount Sinai Medical Center when he died there at 4:45 p.m., about 15 minutes after the Metro-Dade Air Rescue helicopter brought him. Dr. Stuart Lerman, chief of emergency medicine at the hospital, said Aronow died of blood loss, but the wounds alone would have been fatal. "He was on artificial life support when he arrived here."

During a 25-year career as a designer, builder and racer of powerboats, Aronow founded the Formula, Donzi, Magnum, Cigarette and Squadron XII boat companies, all on Northeast 188th Street. Aronow, who lived on Miami Beach, is best-known for the rakish Cigarette, a dip-nosed speed craft he designed for racing. Its name has become the generic term for the boats most favored by smugglers racing loads of marijuana and cocaine ashore from freighters in the Gulf Stream.

Aronow, who lived at a speed comparable to that of his boats, enjoyed the association. He made up for it by designing and building an even faster boat, nicknamed Blue Thunder, for the U.S. Customs Service. Once, he gave Vice President George Bush a hair-raising ride on Blue Thunder. Bush also owns a 28- foot Cigarette boat designed by Aronow and built by the Cigarette Racing Team of North Miami Beach.

In recent years, although he had sold the boat companies, he remained a consultant with an office at Cigarette and operated the USA Racing Team on the same street. He also had been active in the growth of a successful racehorse breeding farm, Aronow Stables, in Ocala. One of his horses, My Mac, ran in the 1983 Kentucky Derby.

Tuesday afternoon, he left his office at Cigarette and stopped for a visit with Robert Saccenti, a former protege. Saccenti heads Apache Performance Boats at 3161 NE 188th St.

Aronow was leaving there when he was shot, said Metro-Dade police spokesman Glenn Stolzenberg. He said the driver of the other car stopped beside Aronow's white Mercedes 450 SL sports car. Stolzenberg said it was not known if the drivers knew one another.

Lezaca, an officer in all Aronow's corporations, said she talked with many people who heard the shots, saw what happened or heard about it from witnesses. She works in his USA Racing Team office.

"He was in a meeting this morning at another company and came in after that, around 2 p.m.," she said. "He stayed an hour or so, dropped off his mail and said 'I'll see you tomorrow.' "

His next stop was Apache Performance.

"The other car was parked across the street -- a dark car with the windows tinted, sitting across the street like they were watching him," Lezaca said. "He was driving out of the parking lot when he was shot. Mr. Aronow wound his window down and they shot him."

Lezaca ran out to the street when she heard what had happened.

"I believe he took five bullets," she said. "one in his wrist, one around the jaw, another right through his chest and apparently another through the car door. When I went down, I saw him lying in the middle of the street and paramedics were working on him."

At Apache Performance Boats, a man who would not give his name said a witness described the murderer's car as a late-model black Lincoln, and reported Aronow spoke with someone in it just before he was shot.

Moore said he was told a passer-by tried to stop the fleeing suspect. "Someone said a car was heading west, in the same direction as Don," Moore said.

"The driver must have seen the shooting because when the guy in the Lincoln tried to pull away, the oncoming car pulled across the street and tried to stop his getaway. You can see the tire marks on the lawn where the Lincoln had to pull up on the grass to get around the car blocking the street."

- Herald staff writers Arnold Markowitz and Jim Hardie contributed to this report.
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Old 02-06-2005, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

Unbelieveable that it has been eighteen years - still a tragedy. One can only wonder what direction the sport would have taken had Don not been murdered . . .

Harry - Stuart, Florida
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:40 AM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

Never knew somebody tried to stop the car. Hmmm.

Thanks Rich.

RIP Don.
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:26 AM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

He was bigger than life. I am proud to say he was my friend.

If he liked you, he would give you the shirt off his back, but if you tried to come on like a big deal, he would write you off and that would be the end of it.

Thank you for all your help, may you rest in Peace.
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Old 02-07-2005, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

Thanks for the story. Great info in there.
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:33 AM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

RIP Don.
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Old 02-07-2005, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

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Old 02-07-2005, 01:28 PM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

The man who loved rough water...Don Aronow.
Rest in Peace
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Old 02-07-2005, 02:03 PM
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Default Re: 18 years last thursday....RIP Don...

Still as sad now as it was then.
I remember my visit to that trophy filled office .. His contribution to the soprt will never end .
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