Joseph David Lagrego of Englewood, in Sarasota County, is accused of causing a fatal car crash that led to the death of University of Florida students Caroline Alfano of Boca Raton and Nicole Scherten of Cologne, Germany.
Alfano, 20, was an architecture major, and Scherten, 23, was an international student who had transferred from the University of Bonn in January.
The two students were driving home from the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival when the car crash occurred. The festival was scheduled to run through Sunday night, but the two students left early because Alfano wanted to go home to see her parents, sources say.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the accident reportedly happened on State Road 710 near SE 128th Avenue in Okeechobee County on Sunday afternoon. Alfano and her passenger were waiting at a stop sign behind two other vehicles when Lagrego, 22, purportedly crashed his 2008 Nissan Altima into the back of Alfano’s Honda.
Alfano was rushed to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead seven hours later. Lagrego was also taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. Tests to check his blood alcohol level are still pending.
The impact of the crash set off a chain reaction and caused Alfano’s vehicle to hit the two other vehicles that were in front of her. The occupants of the two cars were uninjured. They were identified as Jason Andreotta, 37, of Lake Worth, and Steven Ernest Grevemeyer, 49, and Robert William Sherman, 17, of Delray Beach.
Alfano and Scherten met through the University of Florida’s NaviGators International Program, which helps international and foreign students through the adjustment process. After arriving in Florida in January, Scherten was paired with Alfano, who is an officer in the program. She wanted to experience the U.S. and Alfano offered to show her south Florida.
University of Florida spokesperson John Hines told the press that Scherten’s parents were on their way to Florida. He said he expects memorial services to be held for the two women next week after the university’s students return from spring break.
“Just learned two wonderful UF students died in a car accident driving home to S FL for Spring Break. We miss and love you all. Pls be safe,” University of Florida president Kent Fuchs tweeted on Tuesday about the deaths.
Records reportedly show that Lagrego has been cited at least eight times for failing to obey a traffic device, speeding, and a crash that involved property damage three years ago. Florida Highway Patrol are still investigating the cause of the crash and whether alcohol was involved.
The Florida Legislature has passed some of the most demanding DUI laws in the country because of all the fatalities, especially of young people, that are caused by drunk driving. A driver convicted of a DUI usually receives a combined sentence that includes community service, suspension of driver’s license, vehicle immobilization, fines, restitution when appropriate, and court costs, in addition to prison time depending on the severity of the DUI case.
Law enforcement officers are taking extra care to prevent drunk driving accidents by assigning troopers specific stretches of the highway to monitor for potential DUI drivers.
Source: 3.8.17 Lagrego Car Crash.pdf