Around 3:27 a.m., Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Spirit Lake Road near Sheffied Road in Winter Haven and found three victims, all dead, inside a 2015 Chrysler 200 after it caught fire.
Police say the vehicle was most likely traveling at a high speed on Old Bartow Eagle Lake Road east of Spirit Lake Road. The driver side tires of the car left Old Bartow Eagle Lake Road on the left shoulder and traveled through the grass and onto Spirit Lake Road.
The car then continued southwest across Spirit Lake Road where it struck a drainage ditch. Upon striking the ditch, the car went airborne and struck a large oak tree approximately 50 feet off the roadway. The car rotated approximately 90 degrees counter-clockwise and came to final rest adjacent to the tree. The car caught fire with the occupants still inside and was completely engulfed in flames when it was observed by a passing motorist.
Due to the extensive damage to the car, it is believed the occupants were incapacitated upon impact with the tree.
The two front seat occupants appeared to have been wearing a seat belt. The rear seat passenger was not. Due to the fire, deputies were unable to determine if the airbags deployed.
Damage to the car and tire marks indicate that the crash was the result of high speeds. The car also failed to stop for the stop sign at Old Bartow Eagle Lake Road and Spirit Lake Road. It is not known at this time if impairment or distracted driving played a role in this crash.
The victim’s confirmed identities are pending autopsies.
Spirit Lake Road was closed at the crash site for approximately six hours.
The investigation is ongoing.