A University of Florida student heading home to Boca Raton Sunday after attending the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival was one of two people killed in a chain-reaction crash involving four vehicles.
Caroline Alfano, 20, died at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center about seven hours after her Honda CR-V was struck from behind while she waited at a stop sign on Southeast 128th Avenue in Okeechobee. A passenger in the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene.
An architecture major who graduated from Spanish River High School, Alfano was home for the beginning of spring break at UF and was taking part in what her friends said was a passion — attending music festivals.
At UF, Alfano was an officer in the NaviGators International Program, a group of students who aid the adjustment process for international and foreign students. The female passenger killed in Alfano’s vehicle is an international student, a law enforcement source confirmed. Authorities had not released the person’s name as of Tuesday afternoon because next of kin had not been notified.
“She made a lot of friends through that program and gave people a feel for what our country is about,” said Tara Blume, Caroline’s friend from Boca Raton. “She was loving and caring — the perfect representative of a student.”
Joseph David Lagrego, of Englewood, was seriously injured after he smashed his 2008 Nissan Altima into the Honda, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Toxicology reports are pending on Lagrego, 22. A crash report did not detail the speed Lagrego was driving but it was fast enough to demolish the front end of the Altima and crush the back end of the Honda. The Honda was pushed into a 2016 Kia Sorrento that finished the chain reaction by rear-ending a 2010 Subaru Outback.
State records show that Legrego has received eight traffic citations since September 2012, including three for speeding. On June 8, 2013, Legrego was cited for speeding following a crash in Manatee County that involved property damage. Adjudication was withheld by a judge.
In Florida, a motorist’s license is suspended after accumulating 12 points over three years. Records show that Lagrego piled up 13 points after being found guilty of four traffic violations — two for speeding and two for failing to obey a sign or traffic device — from May 2014 to February 2016, but it is unclear if his license was suspended.
Jason Andreotta of Lake Worth, was returning home from the music festival when his Subaru Outback became one of the four vehicles involved in Sunday’s crash.
Andreotta was uninjured but remained emotionally shaken Tuesday as he recalled the aftermath of the crash.
“It was all very tragic,” Andreotta said. “I’ve never seen a vehicle that mangled. Just a gruesome, horrific accident.”
A Facebook page, “Remembering Caroline Alfano”, has been created to allow friends and family to post their memories. Alfano has a twin sister, Christine, who attends FSU, and a younger brother.
Alfano had a wide range of interests — music, the beach, conservation and architecture — but friends said her most prominent quality was her empathetic nature.
Ariane Monteleone, a friend of the Alfano sisters since they attended Eagles Landing Middle School in suburban Boca Raton, recalled Caroline breaking down in tears during a visit to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca.
“She began crying because they said sea turtles are going extinct,” Monteleone said. “That’s who she was. She cared so much.”