Christian Romero, 23, a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and the son of Dawn and Miguel Romero, owners of Romero’s Tuscany By the Sea restaurant in Flagler Beach, died in a two-vehicle crash caused by a 15-year-old driver’s inattention in Orlando early Sunday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The crash was reported at 4:36 a.m. at Dean Road and State Road 408.
According to FHP, Romero was driving a 2016 Toyota 4Runner, traveling east from the S.R. 408 exit ramp to Dean Road, in the inside left turn lane. He was traveling alone. He had a green light, and proceeded accordingly.
The 15-year-old at the wheel of a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe, with five passengers aboard–all between 13 and 16 years old–was traveling south on Dean Road, approaching State Road 408 in the outside lane. The 15 year old was traveling southbound on Dean Road, ran the red light while traveling above the posted speed limit, and struck the left side of Romero’s 4Runner, catapulting it against the center-median curb and causing the SUV to overturn on its right side.
The passengers included three girls, 13, 14 and 15, and two boys, 13 and 16, all from Orlando with one exception, from St. Cloud. The 15-year-old driver and four of the five passengers were taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The fifth was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, also with non-life-threatening injuries.
Christian Romero was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office reported that the 15-year-old girl was driving a stolen Hyundai. (A 15 year old may qualify for a learner’s permit. But under Florida law, the 15-year-old must always be accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or over, and may not be driving after 10 p.m.)
It is the second time in five months that the family owners of a downtown Flagler Beach business has lost a young adult child, with the community rallying around the family. The Romeros opened Tuscany By the Sea in 2019, after a six-year absence from the restaurant business. This morning, bouquets of flowers were accumulating at the door of the business, shuttered because of the loss.
“As a neighboring business,” Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Cooley, who owns the 7-Eleven a few steps away, “I want the family to know we send our deepest condolences. In this tight-knit community we will be there for anything they need during these sad and trying times. Pulling together for others is what Flagler Beach is known for.”
Karen Dion, a family friend, has launched a GoFundMe account to help support the family through the closure. “Sadly, the restaurant will have to close its doors due to the heartbreaking loss of their son, Christian for at least 7-10 days. This closure means that the staff will not receive any income during this time, and the Romero family will also lose business during their time of grieving,” the fund-raiser states. “We know that the Romero family would never ask for help themselves, but we are reaching out to the community to support their employees who will be struggling without their regular income. We are asking for donations to help support the staff and family during this difficult time.”
Dave Roskins says
They are such a kind and generous family…….my sincerest condolences for this tremendous loss. Godspeed Christian.
I thought you can’t get a drivers license in Florida until you are sixteen and even then must have licensed driver in the car while they are driving. And what were these kids doing out at that time in the middle of the night. Are charges pending? The driver should not allowed to obtain a drivers license for a good long time.
So sorry for the family and I offer my sympathy and prayers.
It is in the article… As stated you can have your driver’s permit at 14/15 years old, but the permit still requires a 21 year old license holder to be present. With a learners permit you cannot drive within certain hours constraints which is also an added factor here. Likely someone had a sleepover and decided it would be fun to sneak out and drive around late at night, or asked to borrow the car to get food or whatever else. The driver should be liable for this horrible incident, however the car owner/parent is also to blame for knowing the proper rules and regulations of a learners permit and still deciding to leave the car in easy access to their children. I can 100% guarantee you the car was not owned by any one of the passengers. This is an insurance nightmare for both parties. It will likely be a pending issue that both sides will battle for months. Condolences to the Romero family and hope they can manage through this difficult period with as much ease as possible.
One thing I would like to point out. There are a lot of kids that are 15 yrs old and can’t walk right. They shouldn’t be allowed to get a drivers permit (with restrictions) in the state of Florida until 17 1/2 7ears old. JMO and that’s starting to get iffy if they can handle it then.
I think the parents should be held accountable for this idiots behavior and he shouldn’t be able to get a driver’s license until he’s 21 yrs old.
Barbara M says
The car was STOLEN! Kids as young as 12 are doing this and they go on to burglary and assaults robberies Kias are vulnerable to theft just google Kia Boyz.
guy lathrop says
plus the car was stolen…so bad in so many ways
My sincere and deepest condolences to the Romano family. Prayers for all of you. 💐💐💐
Sorry for Christian’s family:( but come on Flagleive, inattentive driver! No license, probably a stolen car, come on give the facts.
Talk about a small town feeling the lost of a love one. I have know this family for over 12 years and feel like I’m part of it . Words can’t describe what they must be going through. Let’s all help this family get through this . Dawn our prayers are with you and if we can do anything let us know
Monika & Bruno
You can get a restricted license at 15 and have to have a driver 21 or older in the seat next to you. I also wonder why they were out at that time of the morning.
That’s so sad. My prayers and condolences to his parents, family and friends.
Parents also responsible for actions of minors.
The car was stolen.
Cindy S. says
Where were all those kids’ parents!!!! I’m so sad for the loss of the Roneros’ son. May he rest in peace. Prayers for the Romero family.
So sorry for this tragic loss. 💔
15 and driving early A.M. The oldest was 16. Were the parents aware the child was driving. A sad situation that could have been prevented. My opinion but I believe a law suit will follow. May God give the families strength.
I doubt the parents knew anything about what their little bundle of joy idiots were doing. The car was stolen.
O. Maddox says
The Romeros are a phenomenal family, wonderful parents, and an asset to the local business world. Props to Karen Dion for the GoFundMe idea and assistance, I commend you on that. I’ve worked with Karen in the past, as well as the Romeros. I love the close-knit community we have in Flagler County, and I’m grateful to see everyone coming together on behalf of Christian.
Christian was quirky, a very hard worker with attention to detail, extremely respectful, and had the most hilarious sense of humor. That, and he was always the best dressed in the room, no matter where he went. I hope everyone can share the GoFundMe link, or even donate as well. Condolences and memories to the Romero Family. An immensely devastating loss for the community. Thanks for all the fun times in the kitchen, bub.
Grace russo says
We are praying for the whole family.
Prayers for family….
P Pittie says
That driver should never be able to get a license and should actually be on death row. She has no regard for life. She had 6 ppl including her all under age driving illegally and in a stolen car. Should be Her last joy ride….literally! She should get murder charges for one and 5 counts of attempted murder / manslaughter. Just give her the needle!
Jesus christ, don’t you think that’s a little excessive for a 15 year old child?? Of course this is a horrible tragedy & there are no words to describe the loss of Christian. Obviously she should/will see charges. But to be put to death? What were you doing at 15 yrs old?
Prayers to the family and friends Christian RIP
Pat Stote says
Prayers for the family. What a sad story.
Hopefully the kid will pay dearly. As it was said before where are the parents when their kids are running wild at that hour of the early morning.
God bless the family. 🙏🙏🙏We lived in Palm Coast for 12 years and went to the it restaurant many times.
Land of no turn signals says says
The parent’s of these kids should be help accountable.Come on 13 ,14 and 15 year old in a stolen car at 4;30 in the morning?Sorry that’s manslaughter.Sorry for the entire Romero family.
My condolences will pray for family.
my cousin was a beautiful soul who lost his life far too early but he knew god had a plan for him. i will miss him everyday and continue to learn through him. rest easy chris<3 i hope you guys could see the beauty we all saw in him
PC Parent says
Put them in Juvi until they are of age and then charge them as adults! This was 100% avoidable and these children should be held accountable. They knew right from wrong. RIPChristian #justiceforchristianromero