A St. Johns County family grieving the loss of their son killed in a head-on crash earlier this year is hoping to help and inspire others through a foundation in his name.
Trenton Stewart was a Creekside grad and football standout home from his freshman year of college at Stetson University when he was hit head-on by a wrong-way driver in May.
Stewart was making food deliveries for DoorDash, working to earn money for a Mother’s Day gift.
“He was just the most incredible son,” his mother, Mandi Stewart, said.
Ariel Monteagudo was arrested last week and charged in the May 9 crash on Old St. Augustine Road. Police said Monteagudo was driving 113 mph in a 45 mph zone when he slammed his Mercedes head-on into Stewart’s Trailblazer
Monteagudo was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries but recovered and was released.
Stewart’s Trailblazer flipped in the crash. He died at the hospital.
Six months later, police arrested and charged Monteagudo, giving Stewart’s parents, Robert and Mandi Stewart, some measure of peace.
“It was a really great day too when they were able to find him and apprehend him,” Robert Stewart said.
Monteagudo has a lengthy criminal history, and records show this is his second time being charged with vehicular homicide. He spent 10 years in prison after hitting and killing someone in Broward County in 2001.
“Why was he even on the road? Why did he still have an active license with all of those charges? How do you make sense of somebody being given the opportunity and empowered to continue to be legally on our roads,” Mandi Stewart said. “For me, I feel like the system failed Trenton. Of course, we’re the ones who have to live with the circumstances.”
As they grieve, the Stewarts are keeping Trenton’s memory alive through the Trenton Stewart Foundation.
They’ve raised more than $35,000 in scholarships for St. Johns County student-athletes who plan to play sports at the collegiate level — just like Trenton, who was a defensive lineman at Stetson.
“He was focused on his dreams and well on his way to achieving great things in this world,” Robert Stewart said. “He loved everyone and wanted the world to be a better place.”
Earlier in the football, season, Trenton’s teammates at Stetson ran out onto the field with his football jersey — another player’s parent captured the moment in a poignant photograph.
“He should have been there,” Mandi Stewart said. “However, it was amazing and continues to be amazing that his team literally takes this jersey to every single game with them.”
The Stewarts said while the pain will never go away, they hope to help others in honor of their son while reminding the community of his favorite quote, “Quitting is not an option.”
“We will always have fond memories of Trenton, and I think that this mission gives us strength, and we think it’s the best way to honor him,” Robert Stewart said.
News4JAX asked the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office why Monteagudo was not given a DUI blood test the night of the crash which could have led to more serious charges. We have not heard back.
The Trenton Stewart Foundation has several events planned, including a gala. It’s also currently accepting scholarship applications.
You can learn more and apply at https://thetrentonstewartfoundation.com.