They boarded up the gaping hole at the northwest corner of the brick and cinderblock Goldenrod Road KinderCare, but the void inside the hearts and minds of parents and children still remained. A feeling of both security and peace snatched away by tragedy.
A growing arrangement of purple teddy bears, pink rabbits, hand-written notes and Disney Princess balloons sits just outside the ribbons of yellow police tape 20 feet from the daycare – tokens of sympathy from strangers and loved ones alike.
But a single question still burned in the minds of mourning spectators and grieving parents: how Winter Park resident Robert Corchado – a 28-year-old man with a history of drug charges, hit-and-runs and gang association – had been free to roam the streets of Central Florida.
Four-year-old Lily Quintus was killed and 13 other children were injured on the afternoon of April 9 when a Dodge Durango rear-ended a Toyota Solara and sent the car crashing into the Goldenrod Road KinderCare just outside of Winter Park.
Both cars had been heading northbound on Goldenrod Road as 62-year-old Albert Campbell in his Toyota started to pull into the driveway outside the KinderCare, according to the crash report from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The force of the collision sent Campbell’s Solara coupe through two separate rooms, including the children’s playroom. He nearly went through the entire building, stopping just 3 feet before the opposite wall.
Behind the wheel of the silver Durango sat Corchado, according to police. He was long gone by the time police arrived. According the Florida Highway Patrol, he was planning on going much farther.
“Florida Highway Patrol felt that he is a vagrant,” Sgt. Kim Montes said. “He fled the day of the crash, he’s been involved in another hit-and-run up in Seminole County and we have firsthand knowledge that he was going to flee the country once he bonded out from this crash. We felt he was a flight risk.”
Corchado turned himself in at the Orange County Jail less than 48 hours later. His bond sits at $100,000 in Orange County, along with a previous, forged $10,000 bond in Seminole County for a drug charge, Montes said.
“Even if he were to come up with the money in Orange County, he would go right to Seminole County on the fabrication of the bond,” she said.
Montes said she’s confident this would set Corchado straight, as he faces life in prison as a habitual felon. The system had allowed him to return to civilian life time and time again, she said, despite the reoccurring felonies.
“Unfortunately we have a system in place where someone is suspended or revoked through their driving history,” Montes said. “They have certain things that they have to comply with to get it back in good standing, and he has done that. We’re not just talking about his driving history, we’re also talking about his felony behavior with drugs. The highway patrol has information that he is linked to the Latin Kings gang.”
“We would like to see him serve time in prison so that he does not hurt anybody either behind the wheel or in the other activities he’s involved in.”
Winter Park resident Angel Ayala said she knew Lily and her mother Nicole well. She saw Mrs. Quintus like a mother, she said, a mentor and boss who inspired her to work hard at her former job.
Ayala set a potted lily plant beside the pile of gifts and keepsakes, a photo of Lily sitting amidst the leaves with a wide smile, clinging to her mother.
Tears well up in Ayala’s eyes when she thinks of Nicole’s loss and the man responsible who turned himself in earlier that day.
“That’s just not human; he shouldn’t be allowed on the streets with his record,” Ayala said. “Look what he’s caused … He shouldn’t have a license and he shouldn’t be driving.”
Corchado has been charged thus far with leaving the scene of a crash involving death. Additional charges are currently pending against him
“We’re still working on some other evidence that was located,” Montes said.
“We still continue to build a case against him.”