Haines City, Florida – Early Thursday morning around 1:40 am Haines City Police Officers responded to the Intersection of Hwy 27 & RWS Ranch Road in reference to a vehicle crash. Upon arrival officers located the vehicle in the median with extremely heavy damage. The vehicles roof had been removed during impact and the driver of the vehicle was slumped over behind the wheel. According to reports officers could see that the driver was breathing, there was a very strong odor of alcohol emitting from the vehicle and countless beer cans scattered amongst the debris and inside the vehicle. Due to the amount of damage EMS / FIRE did not have to extricate the driver. They were able to remove him from the vehicle and advised that he would be airlifted for treatment. The driver at the time was complaining of shoulder pain, lower back pain.
Due to debris Highway 27 S was shut down. Highway 27 N was shut down temporarily while the helicopter landed on Highway 27 S. to transport patient.
According to reports a flat bed semi tractor trailer was pulling onto Highway 27 S from RSW Ranch Road. He observed DUI suspects vehicle at the last second south bound on Highway 27 in the outside lane traveling at a high rate of speed. He attempted to pull his semi off to the shoulder but the vehicle struck him before he could. The suspects vehicle struck the left rear tires of the flatbed trailer, continued under the semi until it struck the forks that allow for the trailer to be dropped, breaking them free from the semi. The vehicle dislodged from the semi and spun at least one and a half rotations before coming to final rest in the median facing North.
Due to the medical treatment of the driver who was suspected of DUI an investigation couldn’t be conducted. Officers asked him to consent to a blood draw in which he denied consent. According to police reports the suspect advised that he had drank 1 beer per hour since 1600 hours and he knew he was drunk.
Officers followed up with care of the suspect and were advised he suffered a fractured wrist and was being checked out for his shoulder & back complaints. There were no life threatening injuries.
The driver of the semi tractor trailer was issued a civil citation for violation of right of way. An investor took over the case for the DUI investigation. The suspect was identified to be Travis Lawrence Gerlach (DOB: 05/09/1973) of Haines City, Florida. According to reports Gerlach had a blood alcohol level of .281 and cocaine was also allegedly found in his system.
Highway 27 S was shut down for approximately 3 hours, cars were diverted down South Boulevard to 10th Street to Bates Road then back to Highway 27 S.