Friends Remember Minnesota Victim Killed in Florida Crash

March 09, 2018 09:43 AM

Friends of the Andover woman who died in a Florida car crash Tuesday are remembering the 18-year-old.    

Authorities said Lauren Vanreese was involved in a crash they say was the result of a drunk driver.


RELATED: Man Charged with DUI in Florida Highway Crash that Killed 1 Minnesotan, Injured 14

Investigators have said Nisbany Garcias was drunk when he caused the crash that killed Vanreese and injured 14 other Minnesotans.

"She had the biggest smile and a smile you would remember," said Alec Zimmer, a close friend of VanReese's. 

Zimmer said he video chatted with the 18-year-old the night before the crash. 

"At first I thought it was just a dream, and none of it seemed real at first," he said. 

RELATED: 1 Minnesotan Killed, 14 Injured in Florida Highway Crash

Thursday morning, the 30-year-old Garcias stood in a brown jumpsuit as a judge denied him bond. The Florida Highway Patrol believes was driving his truck recklessly Tuesday night before colliding with a van full of Minnesota friends and families on their way home from a Twins spring training game.

Investigators said the vehicles were traveling southbound on Interstate 75 when Garcias veered into the van, causing it to flip and overturn several times.

Vanreese died from her injuries. 

"When I heard about it, it was very devastating. I was very emotional about it obviously," Zimmer said. 

Fourteen other Minnesotans inside the van were hurt, including five under the age of 18. One was just four years old.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned all the children have been released from the hospital. Three other people inside the van remain in the ICU in serious condition, including one woman with a broken neck.

But her medical team is hopeful she'll be able to walk out of the Florida hospital when she's ready.

Garcias is facing 10 different charges, including DUI manslaughter.

Investigators said his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit two-and-and-a-half hours after the crash. 

Now those who loved Vanreese, a recent Blaine High School graduate, are banding together to get through a difficult time.

"Nobody out there will ever replace her, and she will always be in my mind, and I will always think of the memories we had together," Zimmer said. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support the victims of the crash and their families.



Brett Hoffland

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