ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 learned Wednesday Florida Highway Patrol troopers have been repeatedly forced to stop investigating last week's deadly day care crash in Orange County because a sudden spike in traffic fatalities across central Florida.
There have been 21 fatal crashes in the last 15 days, 10 of which were in Orange County, according to Channel 9's Mario Boone.
"We're having one to two fatal crashes a day here in central Florida, and that's just from the
Highway Patrol," said Sgt. Kim Montes.
Kay Countess stopped by the KinderCare on Goldenrod Road to visit the memorial for 4-year-old Lily Quintus, who was killed when a car crashed into the day care following a hit-and-run.
"This should be a priority. It's unbelievable," said Countess.
The death rate on area roads slowed just enough Wednesday for troopers to return to the KinderCare and continue investigating the crash.
Even still, troopers admitted they are overwhelmed.
"It's very challenging for our traffic homicide to not only keep up, but to get old cases closed," said Montes.
"I'm shocked. I didn't know that they would have to be spread so thin," said Countess.
Officials said the Elite Traffic Homicide Unit is short two positions, and they're investigating eight hit-and-run deaths so far this year, which take much longer.
In fact, one of those fatal crashes happened Tuesday night in Orange County.
"We need drivers to do what they need to do. Law enforcement is out there trying to catch those drivers driving aggressively and hopefully we don't have any more fatalities this month," said Montes.