Soraya Carmen Matias-Roth

Soraya Carmen Matias-Roth, the 53-year-old Lakeland woman who died in a head-on crash in Orlando early Monday, was a YMCA swim coach who worked at the Achievement Academy and had adopted five children.

Tributes from friends have poured in on her Facebook page and a fund-raising site that has received 80 donations so far.

“There was no one like her,” Sandra Austin, the YMCA’s aquatic director, told Bay News 9. “She was everything to all of these kids. So it was just like she was the mother of all of them. When she was teaching or coaching you just felt the love.”

Roth, returning from the movies to a family gathering in Ormond Beach, was carrying up to six passengers in her Dodge Durango, according to Sgt. Kim Montes, a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman. Three of the passengers were taken to hospitals with injuries and have been released.

Investigators are still trying to sort out the passengers’ relationships with Roth, Montes said.

Roth’s northbound SUV was hit head-on by a southbound Mitsubishi Lancer that had crossed a grass median around 12:30 a.m. Monday on State Road 417, also known as the Central Florida GreeneWay, near University Boulevard in Orlando.

The driver of the Mitsubishi, who also died, has been identified as Jahqui Sevilla, a 20-year-old college student who had escaped the massacre at the Pulse nighclub in Orlando last year and was fullback for the Orlando Anarchy women’s tackle football team, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Alcohol was found in Sevilla’s car and investigators suspect drinking played a role in the accident, Montes told The Ledger.

The fund-raiser page set up by friends at said the children adopted by Roth and husband Steve range in age from 9 to 17.

Family members posted on Facebook that a Celebration of Life for Roth will be held Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive. Visitation will be from 1-2:30 p.m, and the service will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a receiption. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting a donation to be made in her honor to Achievement Academy, 716 E. Bella Vista St, Lakeland, FL 33805 or YMCA South, 3620 Cleveland Heights Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33803.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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  1. Carmen was my sister. Thank you for writing this correctly as the news in Orlando had it all wrong. All 5 of her children were with her and the six passenger was a friend of one of the kids. They are with family and their father. The family is so thankful for the love and support from the Lakeland and Oviedo friends.

  2. I appreciate this article because it shows the wrongful act of the young woman that caused the accident and both of the women’s deaths. Places blame where it should be, instead of portraying her as a continued victim. I appreciate that they featured the true victim in this terrible accident the 53 yr old mother.

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