MIAMI -- The day after Christmas, Juchen Martial wanted to celebrate his 19th birthday.
So he and four friends from their Little Haiti neighborhood rented a Hialeah motel room Sunday for a night of fun and fast food.
By 2 p.m., a hotel maid discovered all five teenagers dead, apparently poisoned by carbon monoxide fumes.
The car they had driven -- a red Kia Optima -- was left running in the bottom-floor, single-car garage. The door to the interior stairway leading to the room on the second floor was opened slightly, allowing the odorless, deadly fumes to seep upstairs.
"It seems like this is a tragic accident," said Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby.
The car engine was still running when Hialeah police and firefighters arrived at the hotel Monday afternoon.
The victims were Martial, who turned 19 on Sunday; Evans Charles, 19; Jonas Antenor, 18; Peterson Nazon, 17; and Jean Pierre Ferdinand, 16.
The car belonged to another buddy, who had lent them the car for the birthday getaway.
The five were found in their street clothes on or around a bed.
Bags of McDonald's, some of the food still uneaten, were in the room.
The teens had checked in Sunday at about 9 p.m. to the Hotel Presidente near Miami International Airport. Rooms rent for $62 a night.
Earlier in the night, the borrowed Kia had been giving them trouble.
About an hour before they checked in, another friend, Maxon Ofea, 18, had jumped the car battery.
"They thought the car wouldn't start. That's the reason it happened," said Ofea, who grew up with the other teens.
Friend Richard Dalce, 26, said the group decided to leave the car running to keep the battery charged.
"They didn't want to cut the car off," Dalce said.
Dalce, Ofea and about a dozen friends and family mourned outside the Hotel Presidente on Monday evening.
"They killed my son, they killed my son," Immacula Nazon, 38, cried out in Creole in the motel parking lot. Peterson, 17, was her youngest of three children, and her only son.
"I feel so bad because all this morning I called the phone. Nobody answered the phone," Nazon said.
Patricia Nazon, 22, said she had told her brother to stay home when she heard about the motel plan.
"I was like, 'What are you going to get a hotel for. Just stay home ... His friends were like let's go, let's go," Patricia Nazon said.
Her brother and the other teens were apparently longtime friends from their Little Haiti neighborhood.
Juchen Martial was born in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and came to Miami when he was 6, said uncle Patrick Martial, who helped raise Juchen both in Haiti and Miami. He described his nephew as quiet and someone who listened.
"When you talked to him and said 'Juchen, don't do that,' he would say 'Yes, OK,"' said Martial, who said his nephew worked at a local Wendy's and was hoping to soon earn a high school degree.
On Saturday, the family gathered for Christmas. Patrick Martial called his nephew on Sunday, his birthday, and Juchen told him that he was going to the mall. He later tried calling Juchen again, but he never answered his phone.
Police are still investigating the deaths, but authorities believe carbon monoxide caused the deaths.
There were no signs of illegal drugs or alcohol in the room.
The victims had pulled into the motel garage, closed the garage door and left the car running. The bottom-floor garages are connected to individual rooms, to allow guests to enter and exit privately.
A 2007 Florida law requires that gas detectors be installed in hotel and motel boiler rooms. It also requires all homes and apartment buildings built after July 1, 2008, with a heater, fireplace or attached garage be equipped with an alarm within 10 feet of bedrooms.
A factor in the bill's passage was the 2006 death of a tourist in a Key West, Fla., hotel.
Thomas Lueders, 26, was staying at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort with his father when he was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes seeping from the boiler room next door.
Only six days before Lueders' death, three guests staying in the same room fell sick.
Hialeah police are investigating the inspection and fire records of the Hotel Presidente to see if the building had been ordered to install carbon monoxide detectors, Zogby said.
Detectives found smoke detectors in the bottom-floor garage and in the second-floor room, but investigators will try to determine if the equipment was working and able to detect carbon monoxide, Zogby said.
One friend of the teenagers called for more safety measures.
"The room is sealed shut like it was an aircraft ... This is a hotel room. You got to have vents. A minor incident could cause a big tragedy," said Junior Reeds, 26.
(Staff writer Nadege Charles contributed to this report.)
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