Pedestrian Killed in Traffic Crash on US 27 South near Highlands County Line
Frostproof, Florida – At approximately 1:30 p.m. today (05/26/2013) the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a call that a pedestrian had been struck on U.S. Highway 27 just south of Bell road near Frostproof. Upon arrival deputies discovered a man had been struck by a semi-truck and trailer that was southbound on Highway 27. The pedestrian has been identified as 51-year-old Dennis Joseph O’brien of Scenic Highway, Apartment #2, Lake Wales. According to witnesses, Mr. O’brien had parked his Chevy pickup on the right west shoulder of the (south-bound) roadway, got out of his vehicle and walked into the roadway for unknown reasons and was struck by the semi-truck and trailer. The semi-truck driven by 40-year-old Alexy Rodriguez of Miami attempted to take evasive action, but was unable to avoid striking Mr. O’brien. O’brien was taken to Florida Heartland Hospital in Sebring by Emergency Medical Services; he was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
Separate from the fatal traffic crash investigation, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from friends of Mr. O’brien reporting that he had posted suicidal-type remarks on his Facebook page. A deputy responded to check on O’brien’s well-being at his residence. The deputy found the door to the residence open. When there was no response at the door, he checked the interior for the victim and found a handwritten note and the open face book site on a desktop computer monitor with his posting –both indicating that he wanted to harm himself.
Deputies are conducting an ongoing joint fatal crash and death investigation. At this point in the investigation, it appears that Mr. O’brien intentionally walked into an oncoming semi-tractor trailer travelling on US 27. An autopsy will be completed by the Medical Examiner’s Office.