Polk County Sheriffs Office Press Release
Around 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, the PCSO Traffic Unit investigated a two-vehicle crash in Winter Haven that resulted in one fatality. Preliminary information so far is as follows:
The crash occurred on Cypress Gardens Blvd at Helena Road. It appears that 71-year-old Eugene Travis of Winter Haven was stopped in his 2004 blue Ford Explorer at the red light leaving the Publix shopping center to cross over CGB onto Helena Rd when, for unknown reasons, he pulled around at least one car that was in front of him, entered into the right-turn-only lane, and then proceeded straight across CGB against the solid red light. He entered into the path of a 2003 black Hyundai Elantra that was heading westbound on CGB, being driven by 60-year-old Claudio Villanueva of Bartow. Villanueva had a solid green light on CGB.
The Explorer rolled and came to a rest in a ditch. No airbags deployed and it’s unknown if Travis was wearing a seatbelt.
Both airbags in the Hyundai deployed and both occupants – Villanueva and his wife, Monica – were wearing seatbelts.
Travis was transported via ambulance to LRHMC and is in critical condition.
Mr. Villanueva was transported via ambulance to LRHMC with serious injuries but he is expected to recover. His wife was airlifted to LRHMC, where she succumbed to her significant injuries. She was 62 years old.
CGB was down to one lane of travel for approximately 4 hours during the investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and any potential charges are pending completion of the investigation.