Last night (August 18, 2023) around 7:15 p.m. the PCSO received a 911 call from the area near 3655 U.S. 17 North in unincorporated Bartow. 18-year-old David Watson of Winter Haven was driving a 2004 white GMC Canyon south on U.S. 17 in the outside lane. At the same time, 48-year-old James Shaw of Orlando was driving a 2014 black Dodge 3500 pulling an enclosed trailer north on U.S. 17.
Mr. Watson traveled into the inside lane to pass another vehicle, when he entered the grass median and lost control of the truck. The GMC Canyon slid through the grass median and rotated counter-clockwise. Mr. Shaw attempted to avoid the crash, but the GMC Canyon continued into the northbound lanes and struck the front of the Dodge.
Upon impact, Mr. Watson was ejected from his vehicle, and his truck again entered into the grass median where it stopped. The Dodge stopped on the east shoulder of the roadway.
Mr. Watson was transported to an area hospital, where he was declared deceased. He was not wearing his seatbelt. Mr. Watson was a student attending Travis Technical College.
Mr. Shaw was transported to an area hospital where he was treated and released for minor injuries. His passenger was uninjured. Mr. Shaw showed no signs of impairment and speed does not appear to be a factor.
The northbound lanes of U.S. 17 in the area of the crash were closed for approximately four hours during the investigation, which is on-going.