Lake Wales Man Dies in US 27 Traffic Crash
Crash is Third Fatal Traffic Incident Locally Since Saturday
Last updated 5/28/2023 at 12:08pm
An apparent medical incident that left a driver partially incapacitated ended with a fatal rear-end crash on US 27 at Washington Avenue. The Medical Examiners investigation revealed Mr. Wulff died from a medical episode unrelated to the
crash. This was not a traffic homicide as no other persons, to include Mr. Wulff, died as a result of the
According to police reports, at approximately 1:18 p.m Monday a 2008 white Chevy panel van driven by Thomas Wulff, 75, of Lake Wales, failed to slow for other vehicles stopped at the red light in the inside lane. Wulff then rear-ended a 2019 Nissan Sentra, pushing the Sentra into a 2021 Chrysler Voyager. Arriving officers found Wulff was unconscious and not breathing. Officers removed him from the van and began rendering aid until Lake Wales Fire Department and Polk County EMS personnel arrived on scene. Wulff was transported to Advent Health Lake Wales where he was pronounced dead. Mr. Wulff was wearing his seatbelt and did not have any visible significant injuries, leading law enforcement to believe his death may have been the result of a medical episode.
Witnesses said they had seen the white Chevrolet van weaving within a lane earlier in the area of the Eagle Ridge Mall. They told police that they had tried to get the attention of the driver but that he was slumped forward and would not respond or acknowledge them and appeared to be having a medical issue.
Police reported that Jazmia McDonald of Avon Park, and Fernando Valladares of Miami,the drivers of the Nissan and Chrysler, escaped serious injury, and did Valladares' wife and child, who were passengers.
The crash was the third fatal incident locally in three days. Two people were killed in separate crashes on US 27 and on Chalet Suzanne Road Saturday.
A statement from Lake Wales Police Department pointed out that they are "in the middle of a nationwide Click It or Ticket campaign. This crash is a perfect example of why seatbelts are so important. This crash...involved a vehicle traveling in a 40 mph zone of Highway 27 striking a stopped vehicle without any breaking. (sic) Without seatbelts, there would have been significant
injuries to those involved. Please remember to buckle up and to make sure the ones you love are doing the same."