On Friday, 01/04/2019, at approximately 6:12 a.m., the Polk County Sheriff’s responded to a two vehicle crash with injuries at the intersection of US 17 (Charleston Ave.) and 9th Street NE, Ft. Meade. PCFR and PCSO units responded to render aid. Upon arrival Driver 1, 24-year-old Savannah Coffey of Sefner, and her passenger, 23-year-old Dustin Murray of Valrico, were found to have life threatening injuries. They were both extricated and transported via ground ambulance to Lakeland Regional Health as trauma alerts. A driver and passenger of the other vehicle involved were not injured and were not transported for medical care.
US 17 in the area of the crash is a 4 lane north/south highway with a 40 mph speed limit. There is a center turn lane for northbound traffic to turn into a business and southbound traffic to turn onto 9th Street Northeast. 9th Street Northeast is a two lane road that intersects US 17 on the east side of the highway. There is a stop sign in place on 9th Street Northeast requiring traffic to stop prior to entering US 17. 9th Street Northeast is posted with a 30 mph speed limit sign.
Witness statements and evidence indicate that a 2001 Green Honda CRV operated by Ms. Coffey was westbound on 9th Street Northeast when it failed to stop at the intersection with US 17. The CRV proceeded into the intersection in an apparent attempt to turn left onto south US 17. At the same time, a 2018 white Chevrolet Silverado Pick-up pulling an Emerson utility trailer, was northbound on US 17 in the inside (left) lane. As the Silverado approached the intersection with 9th Street Northeast, the CRV violated his right of way and crossed into his path of travel. The front of the CRV struck the Silverado on the driver’s side near the driver’s door. Upon impact, the CRV suffered significant intrusion into the passenger compartment and re-directed toward the west. The CRV came to final rest in a ditch along the west shoulder of US 17, facing west. The Silverado came to final rest in the southbound outside lane of US, facing south. The trailer was jackknifed across the inside (left) lane.
The airbags in both vehicles deployed during the crash. Both seatbelts in the Silverado were retracted and locked indicating both occupants were not wearing their seat belts. Ms. Coffey was seat belted and the belt was cut off so she could be extracted. The Mr. Murray was not seat belted and was found lying across the front interior, under the dash. His seat belt was also retracted and locked.
The Silverado and the trailer it was pulling are both owned by MS Industrial out of Lakeland. The driver 39-year-old Fernando Morales of Wachula. The passenger in the Silverado was 25-year-old Caleb Tamayo of Bowling Green.
Mr. Morales did not show any indicators of impairment. Impairment on the part of Ms. Coffey is suspected.
US 17 was closed in both directions for approximately one hour. It was subsequently reduced to alternating traffic and then one lane open in each direction for several more hours.
Both Dustin Murray and Savannah Coffey are in critical condition as of Friday afternoon, 01/04/2018.