A two-vehicle crash in Winter Haven between a car and a semi-trailer truck Thursday afternoon, August 31, 2023, resulted in the deaths of both occupants in the car.
At about 2:20 pm, the Polk County Emergency Communication Center received a 911 call regarding the crash at 5155 Recker Highway, near Commercial Boulevard. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Polk County Fire Rescue responded.
Upon the arrival of first responders, they found the two car occupants were deceased. The driver of the truck was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released.
The deceased victims were identified as 19-year old Cameron Williams of Auburndale, and 18-year old Neil Bryant II of Winter Haven. Both men suffered blunt force trauma.
Mr. Williams was the driver of a silver 2016 Buick LaCrosse, and Mr. Bryant was his passenger.
The driver of the truck was 61-year old Orlando Velez of Riverview. The truck was a red 2013 Kenworth semi-tractor with a 53-foot Coca Cola trailer.
PCSO Traffic Homicide investigators examined evidence, video, and collected witness statements. Their preliminary investigation determined that the truck was southbound on Recker Highway, and the Buick was travelling north when it drove through large puddle and lost traction. The Buick began spinning counter-clockwise and then entered the southbound lane, into the path of the oncoming truck.
The front of the truck hit the passenger side of the Buick, causing both vehicles to leave the west side of the roadway; both vehicles then made impact with a utility pole.
Mr. Bryant was ejected from the car. Neither of the Buick occupants appeared to have been wearing a seat belt.
The crash investigation remains ongoing.