Three months after a University of Central Florida student drowned after her car crashed into a retention pond, lawmakers are proposing a bill in her memory that would require guardrails on the side of every single retention pond in Florida.
The push for "Chloe's Law," named for 21-year-old Chloe Arenas, has come together in a very short amount of time from an online petition to a proposed law.
"We can't stop thinking about if there was a rail there, maybe she would have sustained an injury, but maybe she'd still be alive," said Lauren Walker, Chloe's sister.
No one could save Chloe after she crashed one early morning in June. She was driving on a State Road 408 exit ramp, when officials said she somehow lost control of her car. There was nothing there stopping her from crashing right into a retention pond.
Investigators said Chloe was not under the influence of alcohol, and her death was ruled an accidental drowning.
Chloe Arenas' car is removed from the retention pond where she crashed in June 2015.
Florida is the No. 1 state in the country when it comes to traffic accidents involving drownings, and Chloe was just one of hundreds of victims statewide over the last decade.
"We have a lot of water bodies. We have a huge, populous state," said state Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando. "We have a lot of rain, so roads can be slippery, and all of these things taken into account, the probabilities are more likely."
Florida has hundreds of miles of roadways pressed up against lakes, ponds, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Chloe's family wants Florida's roads to be safer by requiring guardrails at intersections near retention ponds.
"It's almost been part of our coping strategy," Walker said.
Now, lawmakers like Soto are putting pen to policy.
"It would target sites where crashes occurred, not only to put in guardrails there, but to review the overall policy to hopefully prevent future ones," Soto explained.
- View draft of "Chloe's Law" (.docx)
Soto has already talked with the Florida Department of Transportation about how and where these improvements can be made.
"I think it's a testament to how much we love her and how much we miss her," Walker said.
Of course, funding this road improvement project is a concern when looking at the budget.
"We're dealing with innocent Floridians who pass away where it could have been avoided," Sen. Soto said. "I really think we need to dig deep to fund this program."
And in just a few months, Soto will be at the Capitol presenting the bill he co-wrote for Chloe's Law at the January session in Tallahassee.