Excessive Speed a Factor in Saturday Death of Lake Wales Man in US 27 Crash

Driver and Passenger Ejected After Rear-end Smash Near Weikert Ford


Last updated 2/25/2023 at 1:35pm

A Lake Wales man is dead after speeding into a slower vehicle on US 27 early Saturday morning. Officers from the Lake Wales Police Department responded to calls reporting a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 27 at 1:13 A.M.

Arriving officers at the scene, near Weikert Ford, found 38-year-old Eliecer Padilla of Lake Wales lying deceased in the north bound lanes. A passenger in his 2015 Chevrolet Camaro, 40-year-old Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales, was also ejected from the car and found lying in the median. Gonzalez was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. Her current condition is unknown.

Witness information, corroborated by evidence on scene, indicated that the Camaro was driving south bound on Highway 27 at a high rate of speed. Padilla's vehicle rear-ended a south bound 2021 Chevrolet Silverado being driven by Stephen Lakotich of Plainfield, Illinois. Lakotich was also traveling southbound on highway 27 at the posted speed limit, and reportedly suffered no injuries as a result of the crash.

According to Lake Wales Police Department reports, "the rear end impact, at a high rate of speed, caused the Camaro to begin flipping, which ejected both occupants of the car." It was not reported whether either Padilla or Gonzalez were wearing seatbelts.

The investigation is very active and ongoing, according to police. Anyone having information regarding the crash is encouraged to contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Meyers at the Lake Wales Police Department at 863-678-4223. You can also remain anonymous by calling Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477).


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