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Chloe's Law for guardrail safety secures sponsors in both houses

CHLOES LAW
CHLOES LAW


Friends and family of Chloe Arenas, who drowned after driving into an Orange County retention pond, are making progress toward a new law to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

[WEB EXTRA: Fatalities related to submerged cars ]

"We just don't want this to happen to anybody else," said Blanca Arenas, Chloe's mother.

Chloe's Law would require more guardrails to be installed around bodies of water, where there's a danger of driving into the water.

Chloe's childhood friend, Clarissa Lindsey, began pushing for the law shortly after her she died in late June. State Sen. Darren Soto jumped on board.

"Upon discussing that with her, the more I researched and saw how many other Floridians have died because we didn't have guardrails up," Soto said.

News 6 found 60 people died in submerged vehicle crashes in Florida in the most recent two-year period the Federal Highway Administration made available. That's more water-related crashes in Florida than any other state in the country.

Soto thinks our state can do more to protect people.

"I've already asked the Florida Department of Transportation to look into the matter and give me a proposal about how we can improve upon the formula they use and get the funding to at least deal with the worst first, and try to make our roads safer," Soto said.

Support for Chloe's Law is bipartisan.

Lindsey said she met with Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia Monday, who plans to sponsor a companion bill in the Florida House.

The family says a guardrail would have saved Chloe's life when she fell asleep at the wheel and drove into the a retention pond across the Alafaya Trail exit from the 408. There was no alcohol in the UCF student's system.

Arenas hopes it's a wake-up call to other young people who push themselves so hard while working to pay for school while juggling classes.

The all night cramming and studying and getting into the car tired -- you don't realize how tired you are," Arenas said. "It's a good point to try and keep that in mind. Even though we're young, we're still human, and our bodies shut down sometime."

The Alafaya Trail retention pond where Chloe died still does not have a guardrail up, even though there are guardrails just down the street. News 6 obtained an Aug. 18 Orange County email stating the county's traffic engineering division would not consider placing a guardrail at the location Chloe died, unless legislation passed requiring it.

However, when News 6 contacted Orange County in September, explaining how Chloe's family is fighting for more guardrails on the roads, a spokeswoman confirmed "Orange County is in fact considering putting a guardrail up at that location."

The timetable is unclear, but may take several months.

"The county must first hire a consultant to do the study and design to see if it's feasible," said spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet.

News 6 will follow the efforts to install a guardrail at that location and will follow how Chloe's Law progresses in the Legislature. It could become law as early as next year.

Check back for updates.