‘That’s somebody’s life’: County-by-county statistics, faces behind Central Florida’s fatal crashes

Video: County-by-county statistics, faces behind Central Florida's fatal crashes

In 2019, two little boys lost their mother in a fatal crash in St. Cloud after leaving Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to make a new home in Central Florida.

The year before, two women in their early 20s died in a crash in Winter Park on New Year’s Eve.

On average, more than 3,000 people die in car crashes in Florida every year. That’s about eight traffic-related deaths every day.

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Two women were killed in a fatal crash in Winter Park on New Year's Eve.
Two women were killed in a fatal crash in Winter Park on New Year's Eve. (WFTV.com News Staff)

According to statistics, some counties’ roads in Central Florida prove more deadly than others. Channel 9 reporter Alexa Lorenzo crunched the numbers from the last five years and spoke with family members of a few of those impacted by the loss of life on the roads.

“We should not be OK that there are over 3,000 fatal crashes in the state of Florida every year. That’s somebody’s life and that means something,” said Lt. Kim Montes, with the Florida Highway Patrol.

Montes said at the end of every year, FHP looks at the statistics of the last 12 months to see where trends have emerged.

“The worst thing we have to do as a trooper is knock on a door and tell them a loved one is not coming home,” Montes said.

Lt. Kim Montes said the best way to protect yourself on the road is to wear your seat belt.
Lt. Kim Montes said the best way to protect yourself on the road is to wear your seat belt. (WFTV.com News Staff)

According to statistics provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in Orange County the numbers have both increased and decreased for traffic fatalities over the years. But if you compare 2015 to 2019, there’s a 23% increase in fatal crashes.

According to statistics, traffic fatalities increased 23% in Orange County from 2015 to 2019.
According to statistics, traffic fatalities increased 23% in Orange County from 2015 to 2019. (WFTV.com News Staff)

It’s similar in Volusia County. Numbers went up and down over the last five years, but looking at 2015 to 2019 there’s about a 35% increase.

According to statistics, traffic fatalities increased 35% in Volusia County from 2015 to 2019.
According to statistics, traffic fatalities increased 35% in Volusia County from 2015 to 2019. (WFTV.com News Staff)

"It's dangerous, it's very dangerous,” said Laurie Friend, whose son was killed in a traffic crash. “…A lot of these parents lost their children in accidents.”

In Brevard County, the deadliest year on the roads in the past five years was 2016. The number of fatal crashes has decreased since then.

In Brevard County, the deadliest year on the roads in the past five years was 2016.
In Brevard County, the deadliest year on the roads in the past five years was 2016. (WFTV.com News Staff)

In Seminole County, the numbers have been in the high 30s and 40s for years.

According to statistics, traffic fatalities in Seminole County ranged between the upper 30s and 40s from 2015 to 2019.
According to statistics, traffic fatalities in Seminole County ranged between the upper 30s and 40s from 2015 to 2019. (WFTV.com News Staff)

But the county that saw the biggest percentage increase in traffic fatalities is Osceola County. Statistics show traffic fatalities have gone up every year since 2015, an overall 51% increase.

According to statistics, traffic fatalities in Osceola County have increased 51 percent between 2015 and 2019.
According to statistics, traffic fatalities in Osceola County have increased 51 percent between 2015 and 2019. (WFTV.com News Staff)

“We absolutely do believe that the increased population has just been booming down there, that that did increase our crashes and fatal crashes in that area,” Montes said.

Yesenia Reyes, 30, was one of those killed in an Osceola County traffic crash in 2019. Her uncle, Guillermo Vega, said she’d come to Central Florida from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to make a better life for her sons.

"She find this town she find a place to work,” Vega said. “They find better life here."

Yesenia Reyes, 30, was killed in a fatal crash in Osceola County last year.
Yesenia Reyes, 30, was killed in a fatal crash in Osceola County last year.

The causes of the crashes vary from dangerous intersections to distracted driving and impaired drivers.

Regardless, Montes said the best way people can prevent becoming a statistic is by wearing their seat belt.

“You don’t know what is coming toward you and you give yourself a chance to survive that crash,” she said.