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Frostproof Man Charged With DUI Manslaughter After Alcohol & Marijuana Found In His System

– Polk County Sheriff’s Office Press Release –

This is an update to the information we sent out the morning after a traffic crash with a fatality in July 2023.

The at-fault driver, Robert Castillo, Jr., was arrested and charged with DUI Manslaughter (F2) after an extensive investigation and after he recovered from his injuries. He is currently in the Polk County Jail.

Excerpt of arrest affidavit:

“On 07/02/2023 at approximately 1430 hours, Robert Castillo Jr, was operating a 2005 Nissan 350 Z, black in color (bearing Florida tag 08BNZF with an assigned VIN # JN1AZ34D15M609853) southbound on US Hwy 27, in the area of George Street, with the unincorporated area of Frostproof, Polk County, FL.

Castillo was southbound on US Hwy 27, when he lost control of his car and began to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction and slide. The Nissan left approximately 172 feet of skid marks in the inside lane of US Hwy 27.  The Nissan continued in a southeasterly direction across the median approximately 200 feet, while sliding sideways. The Nissan continued in the southeasterly direction across the northbound lanes (approx. 70 feet) and then began to roll down an embankment on the east shoulder, coming to final rest at the bottom (approx. 214 feet).  During the time the Nissan was rolling, the passenger (Donnie Joe Lee W/M 02/23/1981) and Castillo were both ejected from the vehicle. The Nissan rolled over Lee and came to final rest on top of him.  After the Nissan came to final rest, it caught fire and both the vehicle and Lee were engulfed in flames.

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Witness1 stated in a sworn taped statement that he was northbound on US Hwy 27 and had just crested the top of the bridge, when he saw a black car, southbound on US Hwy 27 sliding through the median. He stated that as the car exited the median, it began to roll and tumble down the embankment.  He said he stopped and noticed the car smoking.  He went down the hill and noticed a man about 10-15 feet from the car on the ground. By this time, the car was on fire. He said the man was asking where his buddy Joe was.

Witness2 stated in a sworn taped statement that she was the passenger in a car with her husband.  She said she was listening to music and was not paying attention to the road.  She said she did not see the car crash, just saw it at final rest on fire.  She said her husband ran down the hill, then came back and got a fire extinguisher.  She said she never went down the hill and only stayed with her kids at the car.

Witness3 stated in a sworn taped statement that he was southbound on US Hwy 27 in the left lane.  He said as he came around the bend he saw smoke.  He said he stopped to help and noticed a car on fire.  He then grabbed his fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, but could not.  He saw a guy lying on the ground near the car.  He said that they dragged him away from the car and fire.  He stated the guy on the ground said “man you guys are my angels”.  He said the guy stated, “Man I messed up, I have been drinking”.  The guy told him that he came around too fast.  The guy asked him where his buddy Joe was.  He said the guy stated several times that he was going too fast and that he had drank too much.  He said the guy on the ground was the same one that went to the hospital and later identified to be Robert Castillo Jr.  

Witness4 stated in a sworn taped statement that she was the passenger in the car with witness3.  She said they noticed the car on fire on the side of the road.  She also said witness3 grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to help.  She stated they tried to put out the fire but could not.  She further advised there was a person lying on the ground, by the driver’s door of the vehicle on fire.  She said witness3 and another guy pulled him away from the fire.  She reported the guy kept saying that he was fucked up and drunk.  She said the guy also kept saying he should not have been driving.  She stated the guy’s speech was slurred, he kept saying he was sorry and was asking where Joe was.  She advised that the guy they were helping was the same person that went to the hospital.

D/S Jessica Williams advised she had responded to help set up a landing zone for the air ambulance.  She observed a W/M patient in the bed of a pickup being treated by Polk County EMS.  She said the man told her his name was Robert Castillo Jr and gave her a social security number.  Castillo told her he was driving the Nissan.  She also said Castillo stated several times he was driving and he was sorry.  Castillo also told D/S Williams that he had a passenger with him, Donnie Joe Lee and he kept asking where he was.

In a sworn taped statement Linda Lee (mother of Donnie Lee) stated they were all at the house when Robert Castillo Jr came over in a black sports car. She stated Robert was driving. She said that Donnie Lee told her, he loved her and would be back later. She advised Donnie Lee got into the passenger side of the car and they left. She said when they left Robert took off spinning tires. She stated this was around 2pm.

In a sworn taped statement Stacy Lee (sister of Donnie Lee) stated they were all outside the house when Robert Castillo Jr pulled up in a sports car. She said Robert was revving the engine she walked over and told him that was not necessary. She said Robert Castillo was in the driver’s seat. She advised that her brother told her bye then got into the passenger seat of the car. She stated when Castillo took off he took off spinning his tires.  She stated a short time later she was on the way to work and came upon the crash but at that time did not know her brother was involved.

All witnesses reported observing only Castillo and Lee at the crash scene and no other subjects were seen around or leaving from the involved vehicle.

Once the fire was extinguished by Polk County Fire Rescue Members discovered a body underneath the Nissan.  The body recovered under the car was confirmed to be Donnie Joe Lee.  Lee was pronounced deceased on scene.   

During investigation, D/S Lucas had responded to Lakeland Regional Health Care, to check the status on Castillo.  D/S Lucas advised me that Castillo showed signs of impairment.  D/S Lucas also stated that Castillo consented to a voluntary blood draw and voluntarily signed a blood withdrawal consent form.  D/S Lucas further stated he supplied a blood kit and the treating nurse drew the blood.  The blood was secured as evidence and later sent to FDLE for analysis.   

My review of the completed FDLE lab report indicated that Castillo had a blood alcohol level of .164 and .165 G/100 ml of blood.  Castillo also tested positive for cannabis.

Based on my investigation, I was able to obtain a speed range for Castillo’s Nissan, utilizing several standardized speed calculation formulas.  The speed range was determined to be 90 mph to 111 mph.  It was noted that this speed range was only a minimum speed and does not account for any of the damage done to the Nissan.  The speed limit in the area of the crash is 60 mph. and was lawfully posted.

Therefore, my investigation determined that at the time of this crash, Castillo was in physical control of a motor vehicle, upon the roadways in the State of Florida, with a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit (DUI Manslaughter).  Castillo was operating a vehicle while impaired and failed to maintain control of his vehicle, causing the vehicle to slide, roll and tumble over 600 feet.  It was noted that within the area of this crash, there were several roadway conditions (intersections, store entrance/exit and a hill) that a safe and prudent driver would have to utilize appropriate driving actions.  Castillo’s driving actions resulted in a vehicle crash, which caused the death of Donnie Joe Lee, a human being.”

author avatar
Carl Fish

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