WINTER HAVEN — An afternoon of boating at Winter Haven’s picturesque Lake Eloise turned tragic on Sunday when a 25-year-old swimmer, apparently hoping to cool down from the scorching July heat, jumped into the water and drowned.
Detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting a death investigation today after responding to the lake, searching for and then locating the victim, Eddie Lee Ricks of 4029 Winding Vine Road, Lakeland. He is reported to have died at the scene.
It happened around 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, when a group of four adults sailed out onto the Lake on a boat.
“One of the male adults entered the water, apparently to cool off,” noted Donna Wood, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the drowning. “While swimming, the decedent, Eddie Ricks, began to struggle and started going under. Despite attempts to pull him from the water, he disappeared from view. Other members of the group called for assistance.”
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team Members responded to the scene and conducted a search near Skidmore Road in Winter Haven, a gated community. Assisting in the search were the Winter Haven Police, Winter Haven Fire, and Florida Wildlife Commission officers.
At 9:09 p.m., his body was found in eight and a half feet of water, near where he was last reported seen going under.
Wood said no one else on the boat got hurt.
“There are no other reported injuries,” Wood said.
Two hours later, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Tampa Police Department following a report about a carjacking that started when two men fled Tampa and abandoned the car they were fleeing in at a home in Lakeland.
It was reported around 8:20 p.m. on Sunday. That was when Tampa Police officers attempted to make a traffic stop of a silver Mercedes Benz near the intersection of 22nd street and 26th Avenue in Tampa. There were two men in the vehicle, and the driver refused to yield to the Tampa officers and instead drove out of the city and fled into Polk County.
About 40 minutes later, Wood noted, the suspects were apparently spotted in Lakeland.
“At approximately 9 p.m., the two black male suspects abandoned the Mercedes near 1118 N. Davis Avenue, Lakeland, where they also carjacked a black Toyota Tacoma which was parked in the front yard of the residence,” Wood noted.
At the time, a woman and her daughter were sitting inside the Toyota: they were later identified as 43-year-old Lorri Teschner and her daughter, 25-year-old Katelyn Bennett, both of Lakeland.
The two suspects, Wood noted, quickly made a move for the car.
“One of the black male suspects forcefully pulled Lorrie Teschner from the vehicle, demanding she get out,” Wood noted. “Dayrel Teschner heard his wife yelling and realized the vehicle was being stolen.”
Dayrel Teschner ran outside and attacked one of the suspects through the open window of the car. The suspects started to take off in the stolen vehicle, dragging Dayrel Teschner several feet until he fell when the truck crossed a ditch and entered the roadway.
Dayrel Teschner sustained a bruise and scratches to his right eye, which Wood said happened when he was punched by one of the suspects.
Lorri Teschner and her daughter were not injured.
The suspects fled the area in the stolen vehicle, and a search is now on for both.
“The investigation is on-going,” Wood noted.
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