A devastated Florida mother is mourning her “painfully beautiful” 4-year-old daughter one day after a hit-and-run driver smashed a second car through a Winter Park day care center, killing the girl and injuring a dozen of her classmates.
Little Lily Quintus “just made everyone fall in love with her,” the girl’s mother, Nicole Quintus, told the Daily News Thursday.
“I have no idea how I’m supposed to survive after this,” the overwhelmed mom told The News. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to go back to a daily routine. I’m wandering about, lost.”
The girl succumbed to her injuries shortly an after ex-con Robert Corchado, 26, driving a Dodge Durango rammed a Toyota Solara through the wall of KinderCare Learning Center around 3:11 p.m.
Corchado fled the scene, leaving little Lily fatally injured and scattering more than 50 children playing inside the building.
“They had three surgeons working on her,” an emotional Nicole Quintus told The News through tears. “She was too broken to put back together.
“She was incredible and she deserved so much more,” Quintus added.
Nicole had just picked up her 7-year-old son Ethan from school and was taking him for ice cream because he had made the honor roll when she got a frantic call from a day care staffer begging her to come to the Goldenrod Road center.
“I was with my 7-year-old son,” she said. “He saw the scene himself.”
Ethan, who is “not an average 7-year-old” and is “very cognizant of what’s going on,” is completely devastated, Nicole said.
“He aspires to be an engineer someday and right now, he’s using his Erector Set to build a time machine so he can go back and change what happened to his sister,” she said.
One 3-year-old remains in critical condition while two more children are in serious condition at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Corchado was still on the loose into late Thursday afternoon before turning himself into the Orange County jail around 4:30 p.m.
Police believed that he may have rented a Mazda SUV from a Winter Park Enterprise late Wednesday and worried he may have left the state.
“We still haven’t found him,” said Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol in the earlier hours of the day. “He’s had quite some time now. We don’t know. We hope he’s still in state, but we don’t know for sure. We’re hoping we can catch him.”
The alleged driver was out on bail for a December drug arrest and for leaving the scene of a crash. Corchado has at least eight arrests dating back to 2000 and served three years in prison for a cocaine trafficking conviction.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the fugitive, who police said has ties to the Latin Kings gang. He faces a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury or death and a $100,000 bond.
“I just want him to come forward and turn himself in,” Nicole Quintus said.
That Corchado caused a crash and left the scene where her daughter lay dying has Quintus “angrier than words can describe.
“He took my 4-year-old away from me, away from her brother, who loves her more than anything, her father who worships her; you can’t run away from that.”
Friends of Nicole’s husband, and little Lily’s father, have started a fundraising campaign online for the family. Brian Quintus is a firefighter/paramedic with the Groveland Fire Rescue squad.