Orange County moves forward with plan for crash barriers at day cares, businesses

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County commissioners decided to move forward with a plan that will require placing barriers outside day care centers and other businesses near busy intersections.

The plan came about after a young girl died last year when a car came through the wall of her day care center. A hit-and-run crash sent a car into the day care on Goldenrod Road in April.

The crash killed 4-year-old Lily Quintas, one of 50 children being cared for inside the center at the time of the crash. Twelve others were injured.

Following that accident, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs put together a task force to look into the number of vehicle-into-building crashes.

"I'm very glad Orange County is looking at doing something to prevent this in the future," Lily's mother, Nicole Quintus, said

Nicole Quintus was at Tuesday's meeting and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs asked if the county could name the ordinance in honor of her daughter.

The mayor's task force looked into speed, casualties and crash locations. They found that in the last two years, 72 vehicles hit homes and businesses in the county. Those crashes sent 37 people to hospitals.

The barriers that will be used will have to stop a 5,000-pound vehicle traveling 30 mph.

"Really, the next step is coming back with an ordinance for consideration by the board, and from that ordinance will grow greater protective measures within our community," Orange County Fire Chief Otto Drozd said.

Drozd said the county could require new and existing day cares to install their own concrete barriers. The cost on average would be about $2,500 per day care, but Drozd suggested the county could put up $500,000 to help day cares that might not be able to afford the barriers.

Shaquanna Benjamin said a car crashed through the fence of her Pine Hills day care center in December. She favors improved safety but also has concerns about the cost.

"It's a good idea. Just how do we pay for it? It's going to be very expensive," she said.

Despite the estimated cost of the barriers, Jacobs and the commissioners seemed ready to make it happen.

"We cannot put a pricetag on lives, especially our children's lives," Commissioner Victoria Siplin said.

Officials said the team studying day care safety will come up with an ordinance that commissioners will eventually vote on.