Ken Suarez reports
MULBERRY, Fla. – A crash early Tuesday morning claimed the lives of two people and injured five others, including a Bartow High School senior.
It happened around 5:40 a.m. on Highway 60 in the Willow Oak area of Polk County, which is just west of Mulberry.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, a Bartow High School senior was driving eastbound toward the school in a red pickup truck around 5:41 a.m. when a silver Expedition that was headed westbound turned in front of her in an attempt to go south on Pine Grove Road.
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Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says there were seven people in the Expedition and four, who were not wearing seatbelts, were ejected. He says two people landed in the road and two landed in the woods. He says some sustained critical injuries in the crash.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd gives an update on a fatal crash that killed at least two people Tuesday morning near Mulberry.
According to Judd, the high school senior who is set to graduate later this month was also significantly injured.
She was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital with one other person. Five others were taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital via ambulance, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Judd says one person died at the scene and another passed away at Lakeland Regional Hospital. He says it’s possible that a third person may also die from their injuries.
A fatal crash closed a portion of S.R. 60 in Polk County early Tuesday morning.
According to Judd, the driver of the Expedition worked in construction and was picking up his team Tuesday morning before the crash occurred.
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"This was a horrible way for one group of people to start their work day and one young lady who was trying to get to Bartow High School for school today as she neared the end of her high school education and was set to graduate, I think, on the 17 of May," Judd stated.
Investigators surround a red pick-up truck that was involved in a double-fatal crash early Tuesday morning.
"The road is appropriately marked," Judd added. "The speed limit signs are there appropriately, but it’s a four-lane divided highway with ingress and egress, and quite frankly what can be done is you don’t turn in front of an on-coming vehicle," Judd said. "This was not the road’s fault. It was not the design of the road’s fault. The only person’s fault was the person who, and didn’t need to, but for whatever reason, did not see the pickup truck and turned left in front of it. It was 5:41 a.m. so it was still dark. From all indications, the driver of the pickup truck had her headlights on and clearly it was just a mistake when the driver of the Expedition turned in front."
Judd says investigators are still trying to determine who was driving the Expedition and where everyone was sitting in the vehicle. But he adds that he believes the driver will be charged with violation of the right of way.
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