Flashing lights, possibly a guardrail coming to troubled SR 408 exit

Orange County has decided on short term and long term options for the exit

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is making changes after News 6 asked about a State Road 408 exit where two drivers have now ended up severely injured, one of them dying.

A 41-year-old man is in critical condition in the hospital after troopers said he ran through a light, veered across six lanes of traffic, then crashed into a retention pond.

The wreck happened just after 6 a.m. at eastbound Alafaya Trail exit on State Road 408 in Orange County.

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Troopers suspect a medical episode.

A similar crash at the same intersection in 2015 left a 21-year-old UCF student dead.

Chloe Arenas’ death led to a law which requires guardrails at state roads that border certain bodies of water, but there is still no barrier at this intersection – at least for now.

Nothing prevented the 41-year-old man from going into the pond at the bottom of the Alafaya Trail exit, just like nothing prevented Chloe Arenas from going into the same pond at the same State Road 408 exit when she fell asleep at the wheel in 2015. She drowned.

After Chloe’s death, mother Blanca Arenas fought for a state law that would require barriers after fatal accidents at retention ponds next to state roads, or at least have engineers inspect the pond’s placement to see if a barrier would be effective.

“Because of this, we just really don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Arenas said.

In 2016, Chloe’s Law went into effect.

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Eight years ago, a single sign on Alafaya Trail warned the exit ramp ends.

At the same exit today, there is not much difference. There are a few more signs, but no barrier.

Why is there no barrier here?

According to Orange County, the pond at the end of the exit ramp is not state-owned.

Orange county said half of the retention pond is owned by the county and the other half is commercially owned.

So if no barrier is required by law, has Orange County at least considered installing one anyway?

As of Monday afternoon, the answer is yes.

Orange County decided on short term and long term options for the exit:

  • Short term – Replace the existing signs with larger ones, a vertical reflective strip and permanent flashing beacons.  The work order will be completed by the end of this week and work will be assigned to the operations crew.
  • Long Term - Consideration of installation of bollards or guardrail provided underground is clear of utility conflicts.

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.