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Lake Wales Woman Charged With DUI Manslaughter

Lake Wales Police Press Release

After an extensive traffic homicide investigation, which began on February 25, 2023, the Lake Wales Police Department obtained anarrest warrant for Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales for DUI Manslaughter. Evidence confirmed Jeanette Gonzalez was behind the wheel traveling at 137 miles per hour, seconds prior to impact. Her blood/alcohol limit the night of the crash was 0.210. The legal limit is 0.08. On February 9, 2024, she was taken into custody by the Lake Wales Police Department. Gonzalez was transported to the Polk County Jail Processing Center where she was booked in. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Eliecer Padilla who died in the crash. The lives of those involved in this crash have been forever changed. This is a grim reminder to never drive while impaired and to never operate a motor vehicle in a reckless manner.

Original Release:

On Saturday 02/25/2023, at 1:13 A.M., officers from the Lake Wales Police Department responded to a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 27, in front of Weikert Ford. On scene, officers found 38-year-old Eliecer Padilla of Lake Wales lying in the north boundlanes deceased. The second occupant; 40-year-old Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales, was also ejected from the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro and found lying in the median. Gonzalez was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. 

From evidence on scene and witness information, it was learned the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro was driving south bound on Highway 27 at a high rate of speed. The Camaro rear ended a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado being driven by Stephen Lakotich of Plainfield Illinois, which was also traveling south bound on highway 27 at the posted speed limit. The rear end impact, at a high rate of speed, caused the Camaro to begin flipping which ejected both occupants of the car. No injuries were reported from the occupants of the Silverado.  

This investigation is very active and ongoing. 

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Meyers at the Lake Wales Police Department at 863-678-4223. You can also remain anonymous by calling Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477).

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Carl Fish

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