Family Turns Tragedy Into Awareness
Last October, 20-year-old Ashley Slonina and UF football player Michael Guilford lost their lives in a motorcycle accident.
Marked by tragedy, the busy intersection of SW 23rd Street and Old Archer Road in southwest Gainesville, where UF students Ashley Slonina and Michael Guildford died, now bares a sign to evoke awareness.
"It's not only to remind us of who they were to so many of us, but to remind us of the risks we're exposed to daily," said Jim Slonina, Ashley's father.
Coming from a party last October, Slonina got a ride on the back of her friend's motorcycle. Driving fast and impaired by alcohol, Guilford lost control and they both died on impact. Now her parents' message is clear
"Slowdown, I mean you'll get there eventually, what's the rush," said Rosemary Slonina, Ashley's mother.
"The most important thing to remember about all of this unfortunate tragedy is safety," said Kelley Washington, Ashley's co-worker.
Struck by the loss of their only daughter, the Slonina's were hit with another outrage. Days after Ashley's death, an acquaintance began using her credit card, stealing money from her family.
"It's probably the most anxious time wanting to know who it was," Jim Slonina.
The culprit, UF football player Jamar Hornsby.
"It was despicable and disrespectful to my daughter's death," said Rosemary Slonina.
While the Slonina's worked to bring about justice, they also worked with Gainesville's Public Works to bring about a change.
"We chose a color scheme as a warning message to other people," said Gainesville Public Works Philip Mann.
Family, friends and even the Gator coach agree.
"It's the right thing to do and obviously our hearts go out to the families," said UF Head Football Coach Urban Meyer.
Rosemary Slonina says to all Gators and parents.
"Really tell their children no you are not invincible," said Rosemary Slonina.
The sign is now a stark reminder.
The Slonina's plan is to memorialize their daughter in Panama City where the family is from.
Hornsby has yet to be prosecuted.
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