‘I feel proud to have known her’: Friends pay tribute to FSU students who died in car crash

Friends reflect on their favorite memories of Antonio Mesa and Valentina Martinez

Last weekend, we¬†tragically lost two members of the Florida State community. Valentina Martinez and Antonio Mesa were killed in a car accident¬†on Florida’s Turnpike when a Dodge truck failed to stop and crashed into the back of their vehicle.

18-year-old Antonio, a freshman at FSU, was from Weston, FL, and graduated from Cypress Bay High School in 2016. Valentina graduated from the same high school.

Valentina had a YouTube channel called Valentina’s Beauty Vlog where she did makeup tutorials and DIY projects. Her friends are now encouraging people to watch the videos, and good friend Agustina Morello said, “She was so talented, I’m sure that she would appreciate everyone learning something from her.”

Valentina with Genesis Ramos and friends

FSU students Aztli Jimenez and Maria Cardenas were also in the vehicle during the crash. They survived and were treated at a local hospital. Aztli has been discharged and is recovering at home.

Valentina’s best friend Maria Antonia Ochoa created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family – the FSU and Weston communities have already raised over $18,000. The GoFundMe page for Antonio has already been shared almost 1,000 times. There is also a page for Atzli’s and Maria‘s hospital costs.

Hungry Howie’s pizza restaurant in Weston is hosting a benefit on Thursday, March 23rd to raise money for Valentina’s family. A percentage of each order will go to the families.

The memory of these students whose lives ended too short is lived out by their friends who are now remembering both of them during this difficult time, and reflecting on the memories they shared.

Valentina with Valentina Riveros Gil and friends

“Valentina and I have known each other since 6th grade. She has always been the sweetest, funniest, most caring human being I’ve met. She was always very dedicated to her studies and worked very hard to accomplish everything she wanted. We were in the same group of friends and I became closer and closer to her as the years passed. Before we graduated from high school we worked together as well at a pizza place. Valentina became more than a friend to me, she was the sister I never had. One of things I’ll mostly miss from her was her big smile and beautiful personality. She will always have a place in our heart and will never be forgotten.” – Valentina Riveros Gil

Valentina with Valentina Riveros Gil and friends

“If there’s anything that should be stressed about Valentina is how sweet and caring of a person she was. She was the nicest person I’ve ever known. If you were crying, she was crying. She and I could sit and complain about whatever nonsense to each other for hours and never get bored. She was so full of like and definitely lived her life to the fullest. There was never a dull moment with her. She had the ability to make anyone laugh at any moment. She really is one of a kind and I don’t think I’ll ever come across someone like her again.” – Tatyana Yakubovsky

“I’m so lucky and grateful to have been able to grow up with someone next door who was so full of life and kind-hearted as you, Antonio. From all the times we spent outside after school with all our friends exploring and coming up with our own adventures to coming over and just playing games and hanging out. I’m lucky to have been able to call you a friend. Continue to watch over us, as we will never forget you. Rest easy in paradise, Antonio.” – Santiago Sanchez

Valentina with Valentina Riveros Gil and friend

“I’ve known Vale since I was in sixth grade. She was one of the first people I became close to in middle school. Since then she was one of my closest friends. She was not only my neighbor but she was my sister. She helped me over come some of the hardest situations in my life and for that I’ll always be thankful. Valentina was a fire cracker. If she had an opinion, you would know even if you didn’t want to listen to it. She didn’t care – she would tell you anyway, but in the sweetest way possible. She was a rock for a lot of people.

“She was someone who deserved the world and so much more. She gave so much love. She always stood up for people who felt like they didn’t have a voice. Vale, my baby girl words can’t describe how much I miss you and how many times I’ve had the instinct to call you about all of this right now. You are my right hand. You are my sister. And I want to thank you for all the amazing laughs and crazy moments we were able to share. I’m going to live my life like the way you lived yours, to the fullest. Every time I put on makeup, I hear your voice in my head telling me what to do and how to do it. I miss you so much, Valentina, and it hurts so much to see your house across the street but not see you there. This isn’t a goodbye, this is a see you later. I’ll always keep you in my heart. Rest easy.” -Mari Martin

Valentina with Agustina Morello and friend

“I love you so much Vale and you will forever be in heart.” – Agustina Morello


“Valentina was actually the first friend I remember making when I moved to Florida in 2007 or 2008, she was such a beautiful soul, so caring and selfless, she was always trying to do her best to make others happy and that’s what I think people that knew her will remember her by…you know, I keep saying this, if you knew Valentina Martinez, you were truly blessed. She was a beautiful soul.” – Jason Acosta

Valentina, Maria and Aztli

“I did not know Antonio too well, but I do know he was loved by many. Just seeing pictures of him, I can tell his smile was contagious. As far as Vale goes, I don’t think I can form coherent thoughts. She was the happiest, most loving girl you could meet. She was always there for you, no matter the circumstances. She was the type of girl that would put others first instead of herself. I just wanted to see her grow. She had a YouTube channel where she did make-up tutorials, and I remember feeling so proud of her when she decided to go public with it. I will always remember her voice and her smile. Those two things are the things that keep replaying in my head.” – Steff Gallardo

“Antonio was my childhood, the only boy allowed in my house. He was one of the most free spirited people I’ve come to know in my lifetime. A person you went to for a laugh at anytime. Its such a tragedy that he was taken so young, but I’m sure he’s happy somewhere in the mountains enjoying nature freely. And for Valentina…she was the sweetest soul. A true selfless person. You can ask anyone, her smile never went unnoticed.” – Gabriella Arteaga

Valentina with Genesis Ramos

“Valentina was an amazing person. She was incredibly talented and always caught the attention of the room with her beautiful smile. Not only was she beautiful, but she was one of the funniest and most intelligent people I knew. I met her a couple of years ago after going through a very tough time, and she along with our close group of friends brought happiness back into my life and I will always be grateful to her. I remember when she got into FSU how happy we all were and how ready she was to be a Seminole. There was never a day without a war chant. We will never forget her or the amazing memories we shared.” – Genesis Ramos

Valentina with Manuela and friends at a birthday party

“I’ve known Vale for about four years now and I think one thing that will echo in my mind forever is gonna be her laugh. It would fill up a room and brighten everyone’s day because it was so genuine and full of life. She was someone that you knew would always be there for you. I’d like to thank her family for bringing in such a beautiful soul into the world, our prayers are with them.” – Manuela Pena

Valentina and Maria Antonia Ochoa

“I grew up with her and she and I stopped being best friends a long time ago because we became so much more than that. We became sisters. She is my everything, my absolute everything. I love her with all my heart and soul. She was the most incredible human being I’ve ever met, and I feel so proud to have known her. She was always so full of light and joy, so sweet and kind. She deserved the world. She had so much going for her and she had so much to live for, so much to offer the world. It’s hard to believe such amazing people can be here one day, and then be gone the next.

“She’s my beautiful angel now and I know she is watching over me, protecting me and guiding me. She was my better half, and now she is a part of me. She will always live in my heart and soul. I will live every day for her. With her. We are all fighting the pain, but we must always remember who she was and what she meant to each of us who knew her.

“My sweet angel…you are so loved and you always will be. Thank you for teaching me so much about life and what it means to truly be a good friend. Thank you for all the memories we shared. May you find the peace you deserve. I know we will meet again someday, and you will welcome me to walk beside you with open arms. You have such amazing parents and your little brother will always look up to his big sister – you will be his biggest inspiration. We love you so much my sweet angel. Rest in peace.” – Maria Antonia Ochoa

Florida State University