OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The drivers who caused a fatal crash while street racing were more concerned about the damage to their cars than they were about the 11-year-old girl who died and the two women who were seriously injured, according to Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez.
“The innocent ones are usually the ones that die (in street racing crashes). From my understanding, these two that were involved in this fatality walked away like nothing and were more concerned with their cars, are they totaled, you know, no remorse,” Lopez said.
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The Florida Highway Patrol reports that a 19-year-old Davenport man driving a Dodge Charger was racing against a 17-year-old boy in a Kia Optima around 11 p.m. Friday on U.S. 192 near Secret Lake Drive when the Charger crashed into the back of a Toyota RAV4.
Records show the occupants of the Charger didn’t require hospitalization but in the Toyota, an 11-year-old girl was killed and a 35-year-old woman and a 23-year-old woman, both from Leesburg, were in serious and critical condition, respectively.
The driver of the Optima wasn’t injured. His car did sustain some damage when debris from the crash hit it, according to the report.
The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending. None of the parties who were involved have been identified.
Lopez said street racing is plaguing Osceola County and while he and his deputies are doing everything they can to stop it, they just don’t have enough resources.
“We try to prevent this. No system is perfect and we’re never going to have a zero loss of life and it would be amazing if we could do this, but this tragic traffic accident that occurred is something that, you know, it should hit home, especially if you have children,” Lopez said.
He said the sheriff’s office has a unit that addresses aggressive driving but it’s understaffed, making it impossible to patrol the roads 24/7 even as the unit has issued 700 citations this year alone.
Lopez’s fear is that without more manpower, the street racing issue could become worse.
“So, 512 law enforcement officers, different shifts, you’re talking maybe a few hundred cops on any day on the rotation. It’s impossible to combat this with that amount of people. We need more money and we can add more patrol people,” Lopez said.
The sheriff claims the department is “at the mercy” of county commissioners.
“We can ask (for more money) but if they don’t give, we don’t get. That’s the way it works,” Lopez said.
WATCH LIVE: Osceola sheriff discusses street racing crash that killed 11-year-old girl
WATCH LIVE: Osceola sheriff discusses street racing crash that killed 11-year-old girl. https://bit.ly/3dxJCT2Posted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Tuesday, April 6, 2021
He suggested that concerned citizens notify their commissioners to advocate on behalf of the sheriff’s office. He also said it’s important to report street racing if you see it happening even though deputies may not be able to respond right away if there are more pressing calls.
“When you’re short manpower you have to prioritize everything you do so we won’t be able to be everywhere at once but you do call and the more you call the more the county commissioners are going to see we have an issue and maybe they’ll start giving us a little more money so we can add more units to address these racers,” Lopez said.
In the case of the crash that killed the 11-year-old, the racers were a 19-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy, which Lopez said highlights the importance of parents teaching their children to be safe on the road.
“Educate your kids, let them know that this is not ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ this is the real world, there are consequences. There are other people that use these roads,” Lopez said.
But it’s not just young people who are driving recklessly.
“It could be anybody racing. I’ve seen a grandma van with a young kid race. I mean, there’s really no typical person who does this. A lot of people (are) racing at all ages, you know, these citations that we’ve done here is just people that we’ve seen, that we’ve been able to apprehend in that moment,” Lopez said.
Not only is it all different people racing but Lopez said it’s also happening in all different parts of the county, including in busy areas and on backroads.
The department has partnered with nearby law enforcement agencies in the past and will continue to conduct special operations in the future with the ultimate goal being to keep the streets safe.
“No child should be killed because of someone’s negligence, especially racing,” Lopez said.
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