A car accident took the life of an aspiring veterinarian, but has left hope for animals larger than life.
Twenty-one-year-old Chloe Arenas died Sunday morning after she drove her car off Alafaya Trail and submerged into a retention pond.
A big animal lover, she was studying to become a veterinarian and spent a lot of her time playing with her dog, Kyro, her cat and her bearded dragon. Mario Centeno, Arenas' boyfriend of six years, said she was taking vet tech classes in addition to UCF classes, on top of working a part-time job.
A GoFundMe account has been opened for Arenas' funeral costs and can be found by searching her name on its website.
Her family and friends are asking that donations also be sent in Arenas' name to Two Tails Ranch, a privately owned elephant ranch in Williston, where donations can be made on its site. The money will go toward food and supplies for the elephants.
"She wanted to work with elephants. That was her dream career," Centeno said.
The UCF biomedical sciences major was exiting eastbound on State Road 408 at Alafaya Trail when her car went across all of the lanes into a pond near Waterford Lakes at about 5 a.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
She died on site.
Divers were able to pull Arenas and the four-door Hyundai out of the pond.
Police are still investigating this case and do not know what prevented the vehicle from stopping.
Centeno said Arenas was leaving her friend's house on Sunday to go pick up her mother and take her to the airport. He said they had planned to go together to the airport, as they always did. When she didn't show up, he figured she was heading straight to her mother's house.
Centeno, who had just moved in with Arenas, remembers her unselfishness and constant happiness.
"I saw her grow up from a young lady into a beautiful woman," Centeno said. "It was beautiful to have her here. I would give anything to have a few more seconds with her.
"She always put everybody before her. She would go above and beyond to help people. She was always there for everybody, not just family."
The couple first met at church when Arenas was 15 and Centeno had just turned 16. Arenas was helping to pass out food with her mother, and Centeno was attending.
"I had seen her there and basically right away I was like, 'I have to talk to this girl,'" he said. "Within a few months we ended up being together. From that point forward, we were together as much as we could.
"We didn't really have a means to get around [at that age], so she would do things like help people clean their gardens and whatnot, just so we could have some gas money to see each other."
Corina Lopez, a senior biomedical sciences major, said she and Arenas first met at summer 2012 Orientation. Arenas was Lopez's first friend at UCF.
"We bonded because she saw I was wearing my Pandora bracelet, and she had a Pandora bracelet, too. We were just talking about our charms," Lopez said. "She was so friendly and she had no problem just starting a conversation with someone that she had no idea who I was."
"I want people to know that she was a really nice person and she was just so genuine and beautiful, too," Lopez said. "She had a passion, and her life was surrounded by that passion of becoming a veterinarian. … She was on her way to her goal. She was an inspiration to me and so many other people."
The memorial service for Arenas will be held Friday at noon in the Camillia Room at Harry P. Leu Gardens, according to her memorial page.
"She was always an amazing person to be around. She was never afraid to make people happy," Lopez said. "She was a bright light. It's definitely a darker place without her."
Noelle Campbell is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Noellecampz or email her at NoelleC@CentralFloridaFuture.com.