Driver arrested in deadly Florida daycare crash
This Thursday, April 10, 2014 booking photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows Robert Alex Corchado, 28, after he was arrested and placed in the Orange County Jail in Orlando, Fla. (AP / Orange County Sheriff's Office)
Patrick Peterson and Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press
Published Friday, April 11, 2014 7:55AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 11, 2014 8:39AM EDT
WINTER PARK, Fla. -- Four-year-old Lily Quintus loved princesses, "Star Wars" and ranch dressing -- on everything -- said her mother whose pleas and those of others were answered when a driver police say caused the crash that killed the girl at her Florida daycare surrendered to authorities.
A manhunt across Florida ended Thursday with the arrest of 28-year-old Robert Corchado. He was charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident almost precisely 24 hours after the KinderCare facility in Winter Park was torn open in the wreck, killing the girl who was sitting in a classroom awaiting her afternoon snack. Fourteen others were injured, most of them children.
Corchado was being held on $100,000 bond, said the Orange County Corrections Department. His lawyer confirmed his client turned himself in but refused further comment and a court date wasn't immediately set.
Police say Corchado, 28, of Winter Park, crashed his Dodge Durango into a convertible, which in turn smashed into the KinderCare building. Authorities pleaded for the suspect to give up, even as they blanketed the state searching for him. Nicole Quintus, whose daughter, Lily, was killed, joined those pleas.
"Families are emotionally destroyed because of what he did," she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The mother softly sobbed as she spoke of her daughter. She said Lily also loved the TV series "Doctor Who" and put ranch dressing on even pizza and hot dogs. Nicole Quintus said a teacher called her soon after the crash, screaming but unable to say what happened.
"One minute everything was normal and the next there was an explosion and smoke and screams," she said.
The girl's seven-year-old brother is an aspiring engineer who wants to design a time machine to bring Lily back, the mother added.
"She was beautiful and passionate and innocent," the mother said, "and she deserved so much more."
Ten people were still hospitalized from the crash Thursday, including one child who remains in critical condition and two others who are listed in serious condition, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
Lily was on the minds of those who turned up at the daycare, where the gaping hole was boarded up with plywood and a cluster of stuffed animals, flowers and candles were left in memoriam.
Ralph Velez, 48, left a stuffed bear from his five-year-old son Xavier, who goes to the day care but was unhurt. The bear was a gift from a few Christmases ago, and Xavier -- who can't stop talking about the crash -- wanted to give it to honour his friends, Velez said.
"He'll say, 'stupid car,' or 'stupid driver,"' Velez said. "He told us last night that he remembers the driver, who wasn't hurt, getting out and saying, 'What did I do? What did I do?"'
Corchado has been arrested eight times since 2000.
Department of Corrections records show he served prison time for trafficking cocaine and extortion. He most recently was arrested in December on a misdemeanour charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage, a felony charge of selling narcotics, and felony marijuana possession. He was released on more than $10,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was due back in court in May.
A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Corchado hung up. Florida Highway Patrol Maj. Cindy Williams said Corchado was linked with the Latin Kings gang and could have been aided by other members.