CITRUS COUNTY, Fla.—A Lady Lake man is accused of being drunk, causing a crash that killed a man and fleeing the scene Sunday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Robert Brandon Vanzant, 31, of Lady Lake was speeding southbound in a Ford F-150 on North Carl G. Rose Highway and passing traffic on the shoulder shortly before 2:30 p.m. Sunday, FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.
Vanzant merged back into traffic near East Spruce Drive and rear-ended a Honda Accord being driven by a 62-year-old Lecanto man. The impact propelled the Honda across the road, where it struck a bridge rail and then collided with a second Ford F-150 being driven northbound by a 42-year-old Beverly Hills man.
The Lecanto man was transported to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The Beverly Hills man suffered minor injuries.
Vanzant, who was not injured, left the scene, dumped his truck at a nearby gas station and fled on foot into a pasture where he was apprehended by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Gaskins said.
Vanzant was later arrested by FHP for DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash with death, leaving the scene of a crash with injuries and driving while license suspended with death.
EUSTIS, Fla.—A woman who crashed into a pole at a gas station Saturday had a breath-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit, according to an arrest affidavit.
Shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, Eustis Police Department responded to Circle K, 19516 State Road 44, Eustis on a report of a drunk driver. When officers arrived, they found Viviana Natalie Viera, 47, had crashed her vehicle into a small pole in front of the gas pumps, the affidavit states.
Viera, of Altamonte Springs, reeked of alcohol, was swaying side to side and had to use her vehicle door for support, the arresting officer noted. Officers observed an open bottle of vodka in the center console; after first refusing one officer, Viera told another officer she would complete field sobriety exercises but quickly said she could not do them, and she was placed under arrest.
Several other vodka bottles were found the vehicle when officers inventoried it and Viera was taken to the Lake County Jail for a breath test. One sample was .333—more than four times the legal limit of .08—and the second sample was .315, nearly four times the legal limit.
Viera was turned over to the custody of LCJ and released Monday on $2,000 bond.
GROVELAND, Florida—A Groveland man is behind bars accused of DUI for the second time in a week and the fourth time since 2021.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, Groveland Police Department responded to the area of State Road 50 and State Road 33 on a report of man leaving a residence drunk. The complainant told GPD what the man was driving and that he had been arrested the week before for DUI. An officer spotted the red Hyundai Daniel Joseph Smrekar, 59, was driving leaving a nearby gas station and began following it.
The Hyundai had faulty brake lights and was missing its front bumper; when GPD ran the tag, the officer found Smrekar, the registered owner, had a suspended driver license and was wanted for a bond revocation, according to an arrest affidavit.
GPD initiated a traffic stop near Michigan Avenue and Beach Street and Smrekar came to a final stop in the driveway of his home on Beach Street. Smrekar, who had glassy, watery, bloodshot eyes, agreed to field sobriety exercises and was unsteady on his feet, the arresting officer noted. The officer believed Smrekar was drunk, and he was arrested and taken to the police department where he refused to submit to a breath test.
This was Smrekar’s second arrest for DUI in a week and fourth since 2021. He was arrested for DUI on July 23 and in August 2022 by GPD, and in 2021 by Clermont Police Department.
He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on no bond due to the bond revocation for the 2022 DUI.
MOUNT DORA, Florida—A man, believed to be drunk, went to Mount Dora Police Department to pick up a public records request Monday morning with his young son and was later arrested for DUI, according to an arrest affidavit.
Around 11:30 a.m. Monday, an MDPD officer responded to the department to assist a man with a public records request. When the officer arrived, Alexander Joseph Robillard, 35, was in his vehicle while his 7-year-old son waited in the police department lobby.
“As Alexander was walking towards the front door, he was unsteady on his feet and swaying his body from side to side while walking. He appeared to be unusually upset for no apparent reason and would only provide me with his first name, “Alex,” the arresting officer noted in the affidavit.
Robillard told the officer he was there to pick up public records he requested approximately two weeks prior and had the “odor of the impurities of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath, his face was flushed, his eyes were glassy, and his eyelids were droopy,” the affidavit states.
The officer explained the records department was closed due to the Juneteenth holiday and Robillard began recording the conversation with his phone, and stated the officer was not any help to him. He reportedly became belligerent and told the officer to “go “(expletive) myself,” the officer stated in the affidavit.
Robillard left and called dispatch and requested a supervisor but he did not wait for the supervisor to respond, according to the affidavit.
The officer provided a description of the man to an MDPD sergeant, and the sergeant said Robillard is “not law enforcement friendly” and two officers should respond to assist. The officer also found that Robillard has a suspended license for failure to submit in 2016.
Inside Lake reached out to the City of Mount Dora by email to ask why Robillard was allowed to leave with the child if the officer believed he was drunk, and Interim Chief Michael Gibson emailed this response.
“It is sometimes difficult to get the entire story off a probable cause affidavit. In this case, the officer responded to the lobby to meet with the male citizen regarding a public records request. Upon the officer’s arrival, the male’s son was in the lobby and the male was sitting in his vehicle. While meeting with the male, the officer did recognize that the male could be intoxicated. However, the encounter was not going well, and the male asked to speak with a supervisor. The officer requested a supervisor and then went to retrieve his patrol vehicle so he could have it near the lobby. When the officer went to get his vehicle, the male presumably changed his mind about meeting a supervisor, entered his vehicle and drove away,” Gibson said in the email.
MDPD canvassed the area and Robillard’s home and found his vehicle parked at Gilbert Park in downtown Mount Dora with Robillard sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running, while the boy played at the park, the affidavit states.
Officers asked Robillard to step out of the vehicle and he refused to participate in field sobriety exercises and said he has not been drinking alcohol for over two months. Robillard was placed under arrest for DUI and taken into custody; and when officers searched his vehicle, they found a half-empty cup of liquid behind the driver’s seat that smelled like alcohol. Robillard had the same cup with him while he was inside the police department, the officer noted.
“After the male left, they began conducting an area check to find him. Once found, he was subsequently arrested,” Gibson said.
Robillard was transported to the Lake County Jail where he also refused a breath test. He was released Monday night on $2,000 bond.
CLERMONT, Florida—A man involved in a head-on crash at a busy intersection Saturday refused to participate in field sobriety exercises and was arrested for DUI, according to an arrest affidavit.
Clermont Police Department responded to the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and Hammock Ridge Road around 8:30 p.m. Saturday on a report of a head-on collision and spoke to Adrian Sanchez, 42, of Clermont.
Sanchez told police he was driving a silver Hyundai involved in the crash, but refused to speak with CPD any further, the affidavit states. Sanchez, who had his niece in the vehicle with him, had glassy eyes and his breath smelled of alcohol, the arresting officer noted. His niece’s age was not listed in the affidavit.
Sanchez was transported to South Lake Hospital by Lake EMS and refused to participate in field sobriety exercises and also refused to give a breath sample, according to the affidavit. He was later arrested for DUI with property damage and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $2,000 bond.
CLERMONT, Florida—A Clermont mom was arrested Friday for DUI after driving drunk through the pickup line twice at Pinecrest Lakes Academy, according to an arrest affidavit.
Staff members at Pinecrest Lakes Academy, 14012 Old Highway 50, Clermont requested their Lake County Sheriff’s Office school resource deputy (SRD) assist with a parent they believed was intoxicated at the school around 2:45 p.m. Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.
A witness told the SRD Heather C. Tonnellier, 48, ran over a traffic cone and dragged it under her vehicle in the pickup line and when staff members approached her, they told her she had missed pickup time and she had to park and get her child from the front office. Tonnellier then left the campus.
The witness also told the SRD a teacher called Tonnellier earlier to speak with her about being late picking her child up and missing a volunteer commitment. The witness said the teacher was concerned Tonnellier was under the influence due to her speech pattern, and the witness said Tonnellier had been escorted off campus on a prior occasion due to her being drunk, the affidavit states.
At 3:11 p.m., the SRD was notified Tonnellier had returned to the campus, driving the wrong way through the pickup line and “having great difficulty following the drive when curves and turns were present,” according to the affidavit.
The SRD watched Tonnellier exit a grey Hyundai, using the vehicle for support and as she made her way to the front office she was staggering and unsteady on her feet. She walked past the SRD and the SRD could smell alcohol, she noted in the affidavit.
The SRD approached Tonnellier and asked her if she was experiencing a medical emergency, she said no, and the SRD explained people were concerned because she hit the cone and made numerous incorrect turns. Tonnellier seemed “confused” by what the SRD was saying.
The SRD asked Tonnellier if she had been drinking, which she denied and she agreed to perform field sobriety exercises. After the exercises, Tonnellier was taken into custody for DUI. The child was turned over to an emergency contact and Tonnellier was transported to the Lake County Jail, where she provided two breath samples, one .200 and one .198, both more than twice the legal limit. She was booked into LCJ and released on $1,000 bond.
In 2021, Tonnellier was arrested for DUI after being involved in a crash in the middle of the afternoon on State Road 50 in Clermont. At one point she told Clermont Police she believed her child was in the vehicle, but later said she dropped the child off at school. In that case, Tonnellier provided breath samples of .229 and .222, nearly three times the legal limit. According to Lake County Clerk of Court records she was sentenced to probation; she completed the probation and terms in May 2022.