WINTER HAVEN – The start of the Labor Day Weekend turned out to be a tragic one for a Mulberry man, who died on Saturday following a wrong-way collision the night before.
The front seat passenger in one of the cars, 51-year-old Orlando Colon of Mulberry, was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with critical injuries, and died shortly after midnight on Saturday.
The driver of the truck that collided with that vehicle is expected to face charges, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said, possibly for being impaired while operating his vehicle.
Polk County Sheriff’s Traffic deputies are still investigating the two-vehicle crash that happened in Winter Haven around 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31.
Carrie Eleazer, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said what is known so far is that a 2004 white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck being driven by Trevor Werner, 39, of 295 Echo Drive in Lake Alfred, was heading east on U.S. 92, approaching Lynchburg Road.
It was at that point, “for unknown reasons, it left the eastbound lanes and entered into the westbound lanes,” Eleazer noted in her report on the fatal crash.
As it did, Werner’s truck struck a 2008 silver Honda CRV SUV that was heading westbound on U.S. 92. The operator was 44-year-old Nivea Ramos of 4490 Colony Road in Mulberry.
“Ramos saw the truck about to strike her vehicle, and attempted to take evasive actions,” Eleazer noted. “However, the two vehicles impacted in an offset head-on collision.”
The crash caused the Honda SUV to flip into a clockwise spin, Eleazer noted, while the Toyota truck also flipped, landed on its roof, and struck a utility pole.
Werner was driving the truck and was the only occupant in the vehicle. He was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for broken bones and lacerations. As Eleazer noted, “He is expected to recover.”
Nivea Ramos was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Regional for broken bones and a back injury, and is also expected to recover.
The rear seat passenger in her SUV, 14-year-old Orlando Dejesus, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries, and remains in critical but stable condition.
Orlando Colon, the front seat passenger, did not survive the crash.
Eleazer said it’s not clear if any of the people in the two vehicles had been wearing seat belts, while traffic deputies are also trying to determine if Werner had been been operating his vehicle while intoxicated.
“Seatbelt usage could not be determined on-scene,” Eleazer noted. “Impairment on the part of the truck driver, Werner, is suspected in this crash. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.”
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