UCF lost a fellow Knight to a car crash in a retention pond just three months ago, but Chloe Arenas’ life has not been forgotten, as her family and friends push to prevent future crashes.
Sen. Darren Soto and Rep. Rene Plasencia are currently working on Chloe’s Law, a proposal that has been passed to take preventive measures to decrease the number of victims who drown in submerged vehicles, according to the proposal’s website.
At the moment, Plasencia and Soto are actively involved with the Florida Department of Transportation to take a look at state-funded public roads.
“The goal [of Chloe’s Law] is public safety. We want to make sure that everyone is safe and all our roads are safe,” Plasencia said. “I put in a request with an engineer from the Florida Department of Transportation at the site of the accident so that we can go over the current guidelines and look at what would have saved Chloe’s life.”
There are usually 2,000 to 3,000 bills filed every year, and Plasencia said only about 15 percent actually become laws. Of that number, not even half of them get heard.
“It’s my job in the House and it’s Sen. Soto’s job in the Senate to not just sponsor the bill, [but] make sure the bill is written in a way that it will be heard,” he said. “Chloe’s Law will be a bill, there’s no doubt about it.”
Chloe’s close friend Clarissa Lindsey, who flies from Maryland to Orlando every week, said preparations are set to continue until the proposal is introduced in the upcoming January session.
“We are continuing to gain community support and awareness about the necessity for Chloe’s Law,” Lindsey said.
Lauren Arenas, Chloe’s older sister and a UCF health sciences pre-clinical graduate of 2010, is hosting and organizing a 5K to raise money in Chloe’s name.
The Running for Rails 5K Run/Walk will take place Dec. 5 in Williston at Two Tails Ranch, an elephant and exotic animal sanctuary.
Chloe was studying at UCF to become a veterinarian for elephants, and Lauren said she thought holding the 5K at Two Tails would be the perfect partnership. During the event, funds will be raised for both Chloe’s Law and a fencing project for the elephants to have more space on the land.
“I’d honestly be happy if there were people there with sneakers on their feet getting ready to walk or run and have a good time,” Lauren said. “It’s really going to be a non-competitive, non-timed race just to get people together and be there for the charity and celebrate Chloe in her memory.”
Even though the event will be taking place in the Gainesville area, Lauren said she does not want the distance to be a barrier in celebrating her sister.
“Fifty families a year in Florida are going through this because of drownings in vehicle accidents,” Lauren said. “It’s crazy to think more hasn’t been done at this point, and why wait until we keep losing lives to make a change?”
The owner of the ranch is also trying to train the elephants to pull the rope at the starting line. Lauren said she can’t even imagine how much Chloe would freak out if she knew elephants were starting a race in her honor.
“Chloe’s my best friend. She’s my only sister. She’s still with me every day, even though it’s in a different form,” Lauren said. “I’m just not ready to just accept that she’s gone and that’s it. There’s got to be something that happens because of it.
“People say everything happens for a reason, so if this is the reason, then we need to make it happen, and not just accept that it is too tough of a challenge.”
Running for Rails 5K
When: Saturday, Dec. 5
Where: Two Tails Ranch; 18655 NE 81st St., Williston
Cost: $25 registration fee through mail, $28 registration fee online
Schedule of events: Registration at 8 a.m.; run/walk begins at 9 a.m.
Rachel Stuart is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.