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Wednesday, February 24, 2021
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Two UF students were killed in a four-vehicle accident Sunday in Okeechobee, Florida, after leaving the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival on Sunday, Florida Highway Patrol said.

They have been identified as 20-year-old Caroline Celeste Alfano, a UF architecture junior from Boca Raton, Florida, and Nicole Scherten, a German exchange student studying in the UF College of Arts and Sciences, UF spokesman John Hines said.

After leaving the music festival, Alfano and Scherten were rear-ended at a stop sign while inside Alfano’s 2015 Honda CR-V, according to an FHP press release.

The collision, which happened at about 4:16 p.m. at the corner of Southeast 128th Avenue and State Road 710, caused Alfano’s car to crash into the vehicle in front of her, which then struck the one in front of it, FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky said.

Scherten was pronounced dead on the scene. Alfano was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, where she was pronounced dead at about 11:03 p.m., according to FHP.

UF President Kent Fuchs addressed the deaths on Tuesday via Twitter, writing, “Just learned two wonderful UF students died in a car accident driving home to S FL for Spring Break. We miss and love you all. Pls be safe.”

An alcohol test is pending for Joseph David Lagrego, the 22-year-old driver of the 2008 Nissan Altima that struck Alfano’s car, according to FHP.

He was also taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where he is being treated for serious injuries. The occupants of the other cars involved were not injured, Wysocky said.

Sara Horning, a UF public relations senior who attended the music festival with Alfano, said Alfano left the festival a day early to spend time with her family in Boca Raton, Florida.

Scherten was excited to meet them, Horning said.

About 45 minutes after Horning said goodbye to Alfano, the accident happened.

Alfano was the historian for UF NaviGators International, a sister of UF’s chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma and a lifeguard at UF’s RecSports, Horning said

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Horning didn’t know until a friend texted her 24 hours later asking about Alfano. When she called Alfano’s roommate, Meghan Mapes, Horning heard the news.

“(Caroline was) really close with her parents, and she was excited to leave,” the 21-year-old said.

Alfano’s wake will be held at Babione Funeral Home on Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and her service will be at Our Lady of Lourdes at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to a Facebook page.

Chimay Anumba, the dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning, sent an email to architecture students Tuesday and said UF will hold a memorial service after Spring Break.

“The loss of one (of) our students is never easy to accept,” he said.

Horning said she will be at the service Saturday to honor the loss of her friend.

“It doesn’t even feel real,” Horning said. It breaks my heart.”


Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Alfano was a UF junior and that her middle name is Celeste.

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