Fatality

Eustis Man Killed in Orange County Head-On Collision

APOPKA, Florida—A Eustis man was killed Saturday night after the 2000 Ford Focus he was driving was struck head-on by a 2017 Dodge Ram 1500, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 38-year-old Apopka man was driving the Ram eastbound on South Binion Road, also known as County Road 437, near Sheaf Road when he failed to maintain his lane entered the westbound lane and struck the Focus being driven by a 65-year-old Eustis man, shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The impact caused the Ram to overturn on its right side and the driver was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The Eustis man was transported to AdventHealth Apopka, where he was pronounced dead.

The crash remains under investigation.

Villages Man Dead, Teen Ejected and Seriously Injured in SR 44 Crash Saturday Afternoon

EUSTIS, Florida—The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that killed an elderly man and seriously injured a teenager Saturday afternoon.

The 73-year-old Villages man was traveling southbound in a 2021 Honda CRV on State Road 44 near Rory Lane in unincorporated Eustis just before 2 p.m. Saturday when he attempted to make a U-turn and entered the direct path of 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe also traveling southbound. The front of the Tahoe struck the left side of the CRV, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

The impact ejected the Tahoe’s passenger, a 19-year-old male from Eustis; he was not wearing his seatbelt. He was transported to Central Florida Regional Medical Center in Sanford with serious injuries. The driver, of the Tahoe, an 18-year-old male, also of Eustis, was not injured; he was not wearing a seatbelt either, Crescenzi said in a press release.

The CRV’s driver, who was wearing a seatbelt, was transported to AdventHealth and pronounced deceased. The crash remains under investigation.

Suspect Who Fled Crash that Killed Teen Confessed to FHP, According to Report

MONTVERDE, Florida—The man who hit a high school freshman earlier this week was found by his boss using a tracking device and turned over to the Florida Highway Patrol, along with the two occupants who were in the car with him, and the driver confessed to the crime, according to a report.

Owen Wells, 14, a ninth grader at Lake Minneola High School, was killed around 6:20 a.m. Thursday on County Road 455 near Willo Pines Lane when he was struck by a Pontiac G6 being driven by Enrique Ramirez, 57, of Winter Garden. The impact threw the teen into the southbound lane of County Road 455 and Owen was then struck a second time by a Dodge Ram being driven by Jeffrey Bolin, 59, of Ferndale. Bolin stopped after the crash, stayed on scene and gave troopers a statement; Ramirez stopped briefly and then fled the scene, he told troopers.

According to the arrest report, Ramirez said he was “scared” and believed because other people stopped, he did not have to; Ramirez had two of his coworkers in his car when he hit Owen. The trio fled to their boss’ house a few miles away, left the vehicle with the damaged left headlight, picked up a work truck for the landscaping business they work for and went about their day.

Owen Wells and his two younger brothers PHOTO: GoFundMe/Support for the Wells’s Family

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies located the vehicle in front of the home just a few miles from the scene of the crash. Troopers responded and observed damage consistent with the crash and it matched “perfectly” to reflectors and mirror housing parts left on the scene, according to the report. They spoke with Esdras Rivera, owner of the landscaping business, who told them Ramirez and his buddies, Alberto Perez Hernandez and Francisco Javier Zacarias Cononado, were “acting weird” and seemed “very short” when they arrived earlier to pick up the work truck.

Rivera told troopers he had a tracking device on the work truck and could locate Ramirez. The Pontiac was towed by FHP for processing with an FHP sergeant following close behind, according to the report. Rivera located Ramirez, Hernandez and Cononado, picked them up and took the trio to the FHP station on Semoran Boulevard in Orlando where they were questioned, the report states. Attempts to reach Rivera for comment were unsuccessful.

 All three were interviewed by troopers and Ramirez admitted he was driving the Pontiac at about 40 miles per hour northbound on County Road 455 when he saw a person’s shadow on the roadway and swerved to avoid the person. He said he struck the person, and the person was struck by a truck, according to the report.

Enrique Ramirez

Ramirez said he stopped briefly, then left the scene because he was “scared” and “others had stopped so he thought he could leave,” the report states. Ramirez’ passengers, Hernandez and Cononado both admitted they were passengers in the car at the time of the crash and fled the scene. They have not been charged and FHP has turned its findings over to the State Attorney’s Office for review, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi told Inside Lake.

Ramirez was arrested for leaving the scene of a crash involving death and transported to the Lake County Jail. Troopers requested no bond when he was booked into the jail, and the bond has since been lowered to $100,000. Ramirez remained in LCJ at press time.

An account has been set up to help support Owen’s family, to donate, visit Support for the Wells Family

Account Created to Support Family of High School Student Tragically Killed Thursday

MONTVERDE, Florida—A GoFundMe has been created to help provide financial support to the family of  the Lake Minneola High School freshman who was tragically killed in a hit and run crash Thursday.

The account, created by family friend Derek Kelley, describes 14-year-old Owen Wells as “always smiling” and “always on some adventure”

“Owen had a love of God and a love of life,” Kelley wrote. “Owen had a deep love for his parents. And definitely loved the occasional harassment of his two younger brothers.

The funds collected are slated to pay for Owen’s funeral expenses and to give Owen’s parents, Jim and Beth, time to grieve, Kelley said.

Owen, of Montverde, was the victim of a hit and run crash just before 6:30 a.m. Thursday as he waited for his school bus, according to Kelley.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tara Crescenzi said Owen was crossing the lanes of County Road 455 near Willo Pines Lane when he was struck by a 2007 Pontiac G6 being driven by Enrique Ramirez, 57, of Winter Garden. The impact threw Owen into the southbound lane of County Road 455, where he was struck a second time by a 2006 Dodge Ram being driven by a 59-year-old Ferndale man. Ramirez fled the scene; the driver of the Ram stopped.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the Pontiac unoccupied shortly after the crash and FHP investigated and found that Ramirez was the driver. Ramirez was arrested a little over 12 hours after the crash for leaving the scene of a crash involving death. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

If you would like to donate to the Wells family, click here Support for the Wells Family

FHP Arrests Man in Hit and Run Death of Teenager

TAVARES, Florida—The man accused of hitting a Lake Minneola High School freshman and leaving the scene shortly before daybreak Thursday has been arrested, the Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday night.

Enrique Ramirez, 57, of Winter Garden was arrested by FHP for leaving the scene of a crash involving death, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said. The boy, whose name was not released, was walking across the lanes of County Road 455 near Willow Pines Lane just before 6:30 a.m. Thursday when he entered the path of a 2007 Pontiac G6 being driven by Ramirez and was struck by the front left of the car. The impact threw the 14-year-old into the southbound lane of County Road 455, where he was struck a second time by a 2006 Dodge Ram being driven by a 59-year-old Ferndale man, Crescenzi said. Ramirez and the driver of the Ram were not injured.

Ramirez fled the scene, and the car was later found by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Troopers questioned the registered owner of the car and their investigation led to Ramirez.

Ramirez was was arrested for hit and run resulting in death. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he is being held on no bond.

High School Freshman Killed in Hit and Run Thursday Morning

MONTVERDE, Florida—A Lake Minneola High School freshman was killed Thursday after he was struck by a car that fled the scene and then struck by a second vehicle as he lay in the southbound lanes of County Road 455, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The boy, whose name has not been released, was walking across the lanes of County Road 455 near Willow Pines Lane just before 6:30 a.m. when he entered the path of a 2007 Pontiac G6 and was struck by the front left of the car. The impact threw the teenager into the southbound lane of County Road 455, where he was struck a second time by a 2006 Dodge Ram being driven by a 59-year-old Ferndale man, FHP Lt Tara Crescenzi said.

The teen was a freshman at Lake Minneola High School, according to Lake County Schools Communications Officer Sherri Owens. The tragedy comes just two days before LCS students go on Thanksgiving break.

“It’s a tough day for all of us, especially those teachers, administrators and classmates who knew him well,” Owens said.

The Pontiac fled the scene and was found unoccupied in an undisclosed location by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies and was taken into evidence, Crescenzi said. Troopers are interviewing the registered owner of the car and investigating who was driving at the time of the deadly crash. The driver of the Dodge remained on scene, and he was not injured.

The crash remains under investigation.

Pedestrian Killed Thursday Morning, CR 455 Shut Down

MONTVERDE, Florida—A pedestrian fatality has shut down County Road 455 Thursday morning.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a vehicle and a pedestrian were involved in a crash of County Road 455 near Willo Pines Lanes just before 6:30 a.m. The pedestrian was killed and motorists can expect County 455 to be shut down for several hours.

This is a developing story.

Fiery Crash Kills Tavares Woman in Umatilla Thursday Night

UMATILLA, Florida—A 39-year-old woman was speeding before she crashed her car into a tree and it burst into flames in unincorporated Umatilla, witnesses told the Florida Highway Patrol.

Around 9 p.m. Thursday, the Tavares woman was driving a 2009 Chevy Malibu northbound on West 4th Avenue approaching West 7th Street when she lost control, ran off the roadway and struck a tree, causing the car to become engulfed in flames, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi. Witnesses told troopers the woman was speeding before the crash.

PHOTO: Sean Curry

She was transported to Central Florida Regional Medical Center in Sanford, where she later died, Crescenzi said.

This was second Lake County resident killed in traffic crash in less than 16 hours. Shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday, a crash on Florida’s Turnpike in Orange County killed a tow truck driver from Poinciana and a Groveland man as Hurricane Nicole made its way across Orange County.

Both crashes remain under investigation, Crescenzi said.

Crash Monday Kills One Man, Lands Another in Jail

LEESBURG, Florida—The driver who rear-ended a man, causing a chain-reaction crash Monday morning that killed the man, does not have a license, the Florida Highway Patrol said following the crash.

Around 7:20 a.m. Monday, Gustavo Martinez Cortez, 36, of Eustis was driving a 2003 Chevy Silverado southbound on County Road 44 when he failed to stop for a 2004 Toyota Corolla that was stopped in the southbound lane, waiting to turn on Silver Lake Road, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The Silverado struck the Corolla, being driven by a 42-year-old Eustis man, and pushed it into the northbound lane, causing the front of a tractor-trailer to collide with the right side of the Corolla. The Corolla rotated, reentered the southbound lane, and struck a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage head-on. The crash partially ejected the driver of the Corolla, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

The driver of the Mirage, a 23-year-old DeLand woman was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 69-year-old Avon Park man, and Cortez were not injured, Crescenzi said. The crash shut down County Road 44 for most of the day Monday.

Cortez was arrested for driving without a license and causing death; he is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Fatal Crash Shuts Down CR 44 Monday Morning

LEESBURG, Florida—A fatal crash involving four vehicles has closed County Road 44 at Silver Lake Road in unincorporated Leesburg Monday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred around 7:20 a.m. Monday and killed a 42-year-old man from Eustis driving a 2004 Toyota Corolla, said FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

A 23-year-old DeLand woman driving a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries, Crescenzi said; a Eustis man, 36, driving a 2004 Chevy Silverado and a 69-year-old Avon Park man driving a 2021 tractor trailer were not injured.

Drivers are asked to seek an alternate route.

This is a developing story.

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