Friends and relatives of Amanda Taylor grieved Thursday as they remembered her in a memorial service at Aloma Baptist Church in Winter Park.  Ms. Taylor was killed in a violent car accident on Highway 50 in Orlando last Saturday night when the car she was riding in was hit by a vehicle being driven by Jose Maisonet-Maldonado.  Ms. Taylor’s friend, Francesca Jeffrey was also killed in the crash, and a male friend in the car, James Leconte, was injured.

Mr. Maisonet-Maldonado had apparently been on something of a crime spree in Orange County earlier in the day.  Hours before the deadly crash, he had stabbed and attempted to run over his girlfriend with a car.

Media reports are mixed about whether Mr. Maisonet-Maldonado was being chased by Orange County Sheriffs deputies at the time of the crash.  It has been reported that Mr. Maisonet-Maldonado’s vehicle was travelling at an extremely high rate of speed (perhaps up to 100 mph) at the time of impact.  It is difficult to imagine why he was travelling so fast if he was not being chased.

Law enforcement agencies have specific rules about conducting high speed chases that are designed to protect bystanders and other members of the community from out-of-control vehicles fleeing a chase.  It will be interesting to see whether the Orange County Sheriffs deputies involved in this situation followed department protocols.

While it is always sad to hear about young lives tragically lost, the loss of Amanda Taylor hits particularly close to home for this firm.  One of my long-time legal assistants, Stacie, attended high school with Amanda and played on the softball team with her at Pine Castle Christian Academy.  Stacie remembers Amanda as an always happy, smiling, and uplifting person.  It certainly sounds like the world would be a better place with more Amanda Taylors in it.

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