Polk County Sheriff’s Office Press Release
Around 11:35 p.m. on Apr 16, 2022, the PCSO Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 call regarding a two-vehicle crash with injuries at 1915 US 17 N., Ft. Meade. Upon arrival of first responders, 26-year-old Ricardo Castillo of Arcadia was extricated from his vehicle and determined to have significant, life-threatening injuries. He had to be resuscitated twice and was transported to a local hospital by ambulance as a trauma alert. The driver of the other vehicle, 40-year-old Jesus Garza of Bowling Green suffered minor injuries and was also transported to a local hospital.
Evidence and witness statements indicated that Castillo’s 2016 white Chevrolet 4-door sedan was heading northbound in the southbound lanes of US 17 at the same time that Garza’s 2021 red Mazda SUV was heading south in the southbound inside lane. The front driver side of each vehicle collided in a head-on crash within the southbound inside lane of US 17.
It is currently not known why Castillo was driving on the wrong side of highway or where he may have entered US 17 in the wrong direction. PCSO did not receive any calls regarding a wrong-way driver in the area prior to the crash.Castillo was not seat belted but Garza was.
US 17 southbound was closed at the scene for approximately 4 hours during the investigation. Castillo is in critical condition. Garza was treated and released. The investigation is ongoing.