Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rivera was previously a pastor at Northland Church in Longwood. Staff at Northland told Channel 9’s Angela Jacobs that Rivera was a beloved husband and father of 10. He served as missions pastor in the 1990s.
“The look in his eyes was more about what could be, the possibilities,” said Northland Executive Pastor Kevin Urichko, who attended seminary with Rivera. The two worked together for nearly a decade.
“He was always broadening my mind as to what could be and calling me to see things differently,” Urichko said.
Urichko said the impact of Rivera’s death is felt around the world because Rivera handled missions and global outreach.
“His whole life was about glorifying God,” he said.
Urichko said Rivera left his home at about 3 a.m. to attend meetings in New York.
“Literally two or three minutes from his home is the Kaley exit on I-4,” he said. “He had just entered.”
During his career, Rivera began other ministries in Central Florida and became a college professor in New York.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Rivera’s family, which includes 10 children, seven of whom are adopted.
Meanwhile, Molina suffered serious injuries and was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Molina’s condition is not known.
Police are still investigating how Molina entered the highway in the wrong direction.
In April, a 20-year-old driver and a 19-year-old passenger were killed in a crash on I-4 in Sanford. Troopers said the driver was going the wrong way in the eastbound lanes and collided with an SUV.
The Florida Department of Transportation said at the time it was implementing enhanced signage and pavement marking standards for exit ramps. The system alerts troopers’ cellphones within minutes when a driver enters through an exit ramp.
There are currently no plans to add wrong-way detection devices, such as flashing lights, along I-4.
Photo Credit: Inhabitat