Love and sadness filled the air as family and friends came together on Tuesday to remember Collette Moreno who was killed last week in a car crash while en route to her bachelorette party.
Visitation was held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lakeland Community Center. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday with a graveside service to follow.
Family and friends remembered Moreno as a bright, fun, caring and loving mother who was planning to marry next month the love of her life, Jesse Arcobasso.
His mother, Diane Arcobasso, thanked everyone for their support during these difficult days.
"The prayers, the hugs for Jesse, for the rest of the family, for Braden, for the Swaney family, the Moreno family, for everyone," she said. "We couldn't have loved Collette anymore. She was our baby."
Moreno and her maid of honor, Ashley Theobald, were en route to the Lake of the Ozarks for a bachelorette party. Theobald was driving Moreno's 2013 Chevy Malibu on Highway 5 in Morgan County mid-afternoon Friday.
An emotional Theobald said that the heavy exhaust fumes from a semi that they were traveling behind caused Moreno to have an asthma attack. She said they looked carefully and she was passing the big rig when she faced an oncoming truck head on. Both she and the truck's driver swerved and lost control.
All three were wearing their seatbelts. The two drivers suffered minor injuries and Moreno died later at a hospital in Columbia.
Missouri Highway Patrol troopers say Theobald was passing the truck in a no-passing section of the two-lane highway. The section of the road was hilly, troopers say.
Troopers continue to investigate the crash. The work includes subpoenaing cell phone records of those involved and conducting diagrams of the crash scene. At this point, all indications are that Theobald will face traffic and not criminal charges. But the final determination won't be made for some days to come.
A ticket is not expected to be filed for no insurance. The glove box was destroyed in the crash and troopers couldn't get inside to retrieve the insurance card. It is believed that Moreno had car insurance and Jesse Arcobasso is working with troopers to verify that.
Family and friends say eight minutes before the crash that Moreno took a selfie of her and Theobald, who appears to have both hands on the steering wheel. The women are beaming in the picture as they anticipate a fun weekend. Friends say texting and driving had nothing to do with the crash, that it was just an unfortunate decision to pass at the wrong time and at the wrong place.
Remembering Moreno included focusing on her love for her 5-year-old son Braden, and her fiance.
"They were two peas in a pod. They were so fun loving together," Diane Arcobasso said. "Silly, goofy, crazy, yet such a beautiful couple. There was so much love between them."
She said she knew she was destined to be her daughter-in-law from the moment she met Moreno.
"She walked out of the car. She walked immediately up to me, gave me a hug, and I said, 'This is the one.'"
She said her mission now is to ensure Braden knows just how wonderful his mom and family are, and everything that her son needs is provided for him. Braden's father lives in Kansas City and Braden is quite close to Jesse Arcobasso. Both men were providing support to the little boy this week.
"She loved him so much," Diane Arcobasso said about Braden.
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