LARGO — While her brother clung to life in the hospital following a car wreck Christmas night in 2011, Ashley Talbot wanted answers.
She confronted Diego Cavalieri, the driver of the Ford Fusion that collided into another vehicle. Cavalieri and her brother, Timothy Talbot, survived, but two other friends died.
"I am so sorry," Talbot said Cavalieri told her in the hospital. "I didn't mean it."
Days later, he fled to Uruguay.
But last week, authorities caught up to Cavalieri, now 24, when he was detained by U.S. Marshals in Uruguay. He was extradited to Florida on Friday and faces two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of reckless driving, Largo police said.
"When I heard he left the country, then I knew someway, somehow it really was his fault," Talbot said Tuesday after hearing about Cavalieri's arrest. "If you didn't do nothing wrong, why are you going to leave the country?"
On Dec. 25, 2011, Cavalieri was barreling down Indian Rocks Road near Anglers Lane at about 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. Inside the vehicle were Thomas Williams, 25, Sean Wilson, 22, and Talbot.
Cavalieri lost control of the Ford and tried to correct his path, but he crossed the road into the northbound lanes, slamming into the front of a Buick Century driven by David Maynard, police said.
Williams, seated in the front passenger seat, was killed on impact. Wilson died at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg while Talbot remained there on life support. Cavalieri and Maynard were also hurt.
Police believe Cavalieri was driving after consuming alcohol and drugs.
Talbot, now 24, recovered from his injuries, but traces of the crash remain. He walks with a limp and is in need of another hip replacement. He can't pick up his 5-year-old son and suffers from anxiety attacks.
"I can't explain how I'm still here," he said. "I can't explain any of this."
After the crash, a warrant was issued for Cavalieri's arrest, as well as an international warrant that was entered via Interpol, police said.
In Florida, Cavalieri does not have a criminal record, but has been cited in the past for careless driving and speeding at 57 mph in a 40 mph zone, but adjudication was withheld, records state.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, his extradition is the first one from Uruguay since the 1950s.
After the crash, a sign reading "speeding kills" was placed near the site of the wreck. Maria Fisher, Williams' mother, and her family placed a heart-shaped balloon and fresh flowers near the sign after Cavalieri's arrest.
"We never thought we'd see this day," Fisher said. "We're going to get justice for Thomas."
Cavalieri was booked into the Pinellas County jail Friday, where he remained Tuesday without bail.
Times staff researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.