WINTER PARK, Fla. >> Four-year-old Lily Quintus loved princesses, ranch dressing — on everything — and “Star Wars,” said her mother, whose pleas and those of others were answered when a driver police say caused the crash that killed the girl at her Florida day care surrendered to authorities.
A manhunt across Florida ended Thursday with the arrest of Robert Alex Corchado, 28. He was charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident almost precisely 24 hours after the KinderCare facility in Winter Park was torn open in the wreck, killing the girl who was sitting in a classroom awaiting her afternoon snack. Fourteen others were injured, most of them children.
Corchado was being held on $100,000 bond, according to the Orange County Corrections Department. His attorney confirmed that his client turned himself in but declined to comment further. A bond hearing was set for Friday morning, according to a statement from the Florida Highway Patrol.
Police say Corchado, 28, of Winter Park, crashed his Dodge Durango into a convertible, which in turn smashed into the KinderCare building. Authorities had pleaded for the suspect to give up as they blanketed the state searching for him. Nicole Quintus, whose daughter, Lily, was killed, joined those pleas.
“Families are emotionally destroyed because of what he did,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The mother softly sobbed as she spoke of her daughter. She said Lily also loved the TV series “Doctor Who” and put ranch dressing on even pizza and hot dogs. Nicole Quintus said a teacher called her soon after the crash, screaming but unable to say what happened.
“One minute everything was normal, and the next there was an explosion and smoke and screams,” she said.
The girl’s 7-year-old brother is an aspiring engineer who wants to design a time machine to bring Lily back, the mother added.
“She was beautiful and passionate and innocent,” the mother said, “and she deserved so much more.”
Eight patients, including Lily, were initially taken to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando. One remains in critical condition, and three are listed in fair condition, according to a statement. As of Friday morning, three had been discharged. The remaining victims were taken to other hospitals. There were no updates on their conditions as of Friday morning.
Lily was on the minds of those who turned up Thursday at the day care, where the gaping hole was boarded up with plywood and a cluster of stuffed animals, flowers and candles were left in memoriam.
Ralph Velez, 48, left a stuffed bear from son Xavier, 5, who goes to the day care but was unhurt in Wednesday’s crash. The bear was a gift from a few Christmases ago, and Xavier — who can’t stop talking about the crash — wanted to give it to honor his friends, Velez said.
“He’ll say, ‘stupid car,’ or ‘stupid driver,”‘ Velez said. “He told us last night that he remembers the driver, who wasn’t hurt, getting out and saying, ‘What did I do? What did I do?”‘
Corchado has been arrested eight times since 2000.
Department of Corrections records show he served prison time for trafficking cocaine and extortion. He most recently was arrested in December on a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage, a felony charge of selling narcotics, and felony marijuana possession. He was released on more than $10,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was due back in court in May.
A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Corchado hung up. Florida Highway Patrol Maj. Cindy Williams said Corchado was linked with the Latin Kings gang and could have been aided by other members.
Sedensky reported from West Palm Beach, Fla.