Florida A&M University lost one of their very own on Wednesday. 23-year-old Matthew Bien-Aime was involved in a tragic car crash on Interstate 10 that ended in flames.
Bien-Aime was fresh off a spring break trip to New York City to visit his best friend Jordan Kinsey. It was the Tampa native's first trip to New York. The two attended a broadway screening of "The Color Purple" and visited Times Square and The Apollo.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, after returning to Tampa from New York City Bien-Aime started his 4-hour trip back to Tallahassee. He text Kinsey and wished him a happy 23rd birthday. Kinsey told him to drive safely.
It was the last time Kinsey, 23, would ever talk to his friend.
At 2:45 p.m. while driving though Jefferson County, a semi-trailer truck changing lanes on the I-10 pushed Bien-Aime's 2002 Ford SUV off the road. The collision sent the vehicle across the median into oncoming traffic. He died after it collided head-on with an eastbound semi and caught fire, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP said charges are pending against 66-year-old Simeon Ibarra Rodriguez, of DeLeon Springs, who was operating the semi- truck that initially hit Bien-Aime's vehicle. The case is still under investigation.
Kinsey has been broken up by the death of his friend. The two had been friends since they met at Tampa Bay Technical High School.
"He was my close friend. We spent a lot of time together," Kinsey said. "It was heartbreaking to find out what happened to him."
After graduating in 2011, they both attended FAMU and obtained their bachelor's degree last year.
The news is affecting students at FAMU. Michael Owens, second-year education student from Jacksonville, said he’s shaken up about the accident.
"It's just so crazy to think about," Owens said. "A student here at FAM', coming back from spring break just like the rest of us died so tragically. I've never felt comfortable driving next to semi- trucks (and) this is why.”
Bien-Aime was seeking to complete his master's in biology at Florida A&M University. He had dreams of attending the renowned Johns Hopkins University and becoming a doctor.
Nathaniel Johnson, fourth-year nursing student, from Ocala, said he has taken the death of his fellow rattler personally.
“Words can’t explain how I’ve been feeling. To think somebody who walks across this campus daily like I do, life has just ended just like that is depressing,” Johnson said. “I just pray that his family and friends can be strong.”