The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide Unit is investigating a fatal two-vehicle crash which occurred Thursday night, January 14, 2021, near Bartow.
The crash happened at around 7:30 p.m. on State Road 60, about a half-mile west of Century Boulevard.
When patrol deputies and Polk County Fire Rescue arrived on scene, they found 61-year-old Kenneth Nelson of Avon Park deceased, and lying in the median separating the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway. Nelson was the driver of a gray 2013 Hyundai Accent. There were two passengers in Nelson’s vehicle.
86-year-old Herbert Rogers of Sebring was driving a red 2016 Toyota Camry. He and his passenger were transported to Lakeland Regional Health where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
Also injured was Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) employee, 57-year-old Robert Burns of Sebring. Burns was working at the railroad crossing in the area of the crash.
According to the preliminary investigation, FDOT was conducting maintenance repairs at the railroad crossing in the area of the crash, when Nelson had to stop his vehicle in the median due to a flat tire. Nelson and one of his passengers exited the Hyundai.
Based on evidence at the scene and witness statements, Burns and Nelson were attempting to change the flat tire, when Rogers, believing he was being redirected due to the railroad repairs, hit the passenger side of Nelson’s Hyundai. The Hyundai rotated clockwise striking Burns, Nelson and one of the passengers.
Nelson died at the scene.
Burns was taken to Lakeland Regional Health and is in stable condition.
The passenger who was standing with Nelson at the time of the crash was treated at the scene with minor scrapes. The second passenger was not injured.
The roadway at the time of the crash was not well-lit. Impairment does not appear to be a cause.
The roadway was closed for approximately five hours.