The Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single-vehicle crash around 1:55 pm on Friday, October 21, 2022, on US Hwy 27 near Hwy 630Ain Frostproof.
Upon arrival of first responders, the driver, 37-year-of Jose Carlos Gutierrez Soto of Bartow, had suffered life-threatening head trauma and was transported to the Lake Wales Medical Center. He succumbed to his injuries 3 hours after the crash.
One of his passengers, 39-year-old Cornelio Gutierrez Soto of Bartow, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was flown to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center as a trauma alert. His other passenger, 35-year-old Elisio Gutierrez Soto of Bartow, was not injured and remained at the scene.
The area where the crash occurred is rural in nature and is primarily surrounded by woodlands. It was daylight and the weather was clear when the crash occurred.
Evidence and witness statements indicated that Jose’s 2003 white Ford Expedition was northbound on US 27 in the inside (left) lane pulling a white enclosed utility trailer. As it approached the area of Limpkin Lane, it appears to have exited the inside lane into the grass median, crossed back across both lanes of northbound US 27, and exited onto the right (east) shoulder of the highway. The SUV and the trailer then began to flip, causing Jose and Cornelio to be ejected. The SUV came to final rest in the middle of northbound US 27 and the trailer detached and came to final rest along the wood line on the east side of the roadway.
A witness indicated the SUV or the trailer may have suffered a blowout, causing Jose to lose control.