Published On: Wed, Nov 11th, 2015

Woman Killed in Car Crash Was Avid Volunteer With Deep Sense of Joy

By CRA News Service

Several hundred mourners gathered at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church Saturday to pay their last respect to Wendy Harris-Aceves, the 46-year-old woman who was killed Nov. 1 when an underage driver of a stolen Mustang plowed into her Honda Pilot.

“Wendy’s life was too short but we remember the exuberance and vitality of life she showed us,” Monsignor Michael McGraw told the crowd. “She had that deep sense of joy that just spilled over.”

A devout Catholic, Mrs. Harris-Aceves was an avid volunteer in her children’s schools. Her 15-year-old daughter, Sierra, attends Cardinal Gibbons Catholic High School in Fort Lauderdale, and Brady, 8, goes to school at St. Joan of Arc. She also was active with both the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and other auxiliaries at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.

Several Girl and Boy Scouts wore their uniforms to show their appreciation to Mrs. Harris-Aveces’ longtime dedication to scouting.

Caroline Roberts, principal at St. Joan of Arc School, said Mrs. Harris-Aveces was a huge inspiration to many parents at the school and members of the church next door. She was a homeroom mother and a regular volunteer at the church, she added.

“Wendy touched so many lives with her work at church and at school,” said Roberts, who knew Mrs. Harris-Aveces for two years. “She was always doing something for someone with a beautiful smile. You would find her at church or school every day. Her positivity and love was contagious.”

Roberts said that the school has started a scholarship fund in Mrs. Harris-Aceves’ name.

The events leading to Mrs. Harris-Aceves’ death began when officers responded to an armed robbery at The Addison event center at South Dixie Highway and East Camino Real at about 6 p.m. Nov. 1.

Two men went up to a valet, one pointed a gun at him, took his cellphone and the keys to a 2016 Ford Mustang and drove off, police said. Hours later, investigators tracked the phone to Deerfield Beach, where Broward County sheriff’s deputies found it, but no suspects.

At about 11 p.m., police spotted the Mustang in the 1400 block of Northwest Second Avenue, north of Glades Road and tried to stop the driver. The teen took off speeding south on Northwest Second Avenue and crashed into Mrs. Harris-Aceves’ car at the intersection with Palmetto Park Road near City Hall. She died at the scene, investigators said. It was not clear if there was a pursuit before the crash.

Jacquan Strowbridge, 20, the passenger in the Mustang, ran from the scene. Police quickly caught him.

Investigators have not charged Strowbridge. However, he remains a person of interest in the case, police said. Strowbridge, who has a checkered past dating back to 2011, is on probation after being released from prison in July for kidnapping and armed robbery, records show.

The Deerfield Beach teen who was driving the mustang is being held in the Palm Beach County Juvenile Detention Center until the State Attorney’s Office decides whether to charge him as an adult.

The Boca Raton Tribune is not naming the teen because he has not been charged as an adult.

The teen’s has been arrested at least six times in 2015 for robbery, vehicle theft and carrying a concealed firearm. He was not convicted in any of those arrests.

Along with her two children, Mrs. Harris-Aceves, a graduate of St. Ambrose Catholic School and Cardinal Gibbons Catholic High School, leaves behind a husband, John Aceves.

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