UCF student's death sparks petition to protect drivers
Less than two weeks after UCF student Chloe Arenas' death on Alafaya Trail, her friends and family are now working to make sure an accident like hers doesn't happen again.
Friends and family of Arenas are petitioning to enact legislation to implement protective barriers around retention ponds and other bodies of water near Florida highways, potentially saving the lives of drivers.
The 21-year-old biomedical sciences major died June 28, when her car went across Alafaya Trail into a bordering pond around 5 a.m. Divers were able to pull Arenas and her vehicle out of the pond. She died on site.
Her loved ones are working to begin drafting the bill for the first reading, said Clarissa Lindsey, Arenas' best friend.
"We have contacted the Florida House of Representatives, some attorneys that are really influential in the political world, lawmakers and people of that sort. We've heard a lot back from interns and legislative aids who want to get started with the process," Lindsey said.
Lindsey set up the petition on change.org, aptly named Chloe's Law. It was put in place earlier this week and has already received more than 3,500 signatures.
"The majority of that is without any media outreach. These are just people talking in the community, sharing on social network," said Lindsey, who plans on scheduling more media appointments to get the word out.
"This petition is more so to gain support and spread awareness and show the community behind us, because legislators have already hopped on board with this," she said.
According to an Orlando Sentinel review of federal crash data, 49 people drowned in their car in Florida from 2008-12. The next highest number was in Texas, with 18 people.
"The fact that no one has tried to fight this issue before is just astonishing to me. One life is too many and we're at 49 in the last [few] years," said Lindsey. "It's too common to not have a law for this, and I know that if Chloe was alive and it was one of us, she would be behind this 100 percent."
Noelle Campbell is a Digital Producer with the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Noellecampz or email her at NoelleC@CentralFloridaFuture.com.