The PCSO Traffic Unit investigated a crash on US Hwy 27 in the southbound lanes just south of the Cypress Gardens Blvd. intersection in Winter Haven at 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, that resulted in the deaths of two people inside a car that crashed into a semi tractor-trailer.
Preliminary details are as follows:
A 2019 white International semi-truck owned by McLane Food Service that was hauling a trailer was traveling southbound on Hwy 27 and went through the green light at CGB when, for unknown reasons, a blue 2015 Toyota sedan that was heading eastbound in the right-hand turn lane on CGB drove out onto Hwy 27 and struck the side of the trailer as it was passing through the intersection. As a result, the car became lodged underneath and was dragged several hundred feet before the driver of the semi, 43-year-old Amircal Valles of Haines City, was able to come to a stop. The trailer and the car lodged under it caught on fire. The occupants of the car, tentatively identified by family members as 33-year-old Brandon Leonard White of Winter Haven (driver) and 31-year-old Clarissa Iris Cruz of Lake Wales (passenger) were entrapped in the car and died at the scene. Valles was able to detach the semi from the trailer and move it a short distance away.
The roadway was closed for approximately seven hours during the investigation and cleanup. Deputies are investigating why the Toyota proceeded out onto Hwy 27 against the red light on CGB. Valles was not injured.