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Lake Wales Crash at 137 MPH Leads to Death, Manslaughter Charges

Crash Occurred on US 27 Near Weikert Ford

A Lake Wales woman is in custody after a horrific accident on Saturday morning resulted in the death of a passenger in her vehicle. After what police described as "a very active and ongoing traffic homicide investigation," the Lake Wales Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales for DUI Manslaughter.

The crash took place on U.S. Highway 27, in front of Weikert Ford, where officers found 38-year-old Eliecer Padilla of Lake Wales deceased in the north bound lanes, and 40-year-old Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales lying in the median.

Gonzalez was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

Gonzalez was reportedly driving a 2015 Chevrolet Camaro was south bound on Highway 27 when she rear-ended a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado being driven by Stephen Lakotich of Plainfield Illinois, which was also traveling south bound on highway 27 at the posted speed limit.

The rear end impact, at a high rate of speed, caused the Camaro to begin flipping. Both Gonzalez and Padilla were ejected from the vehicle.

No injuries were reported from the occupants of the Silverado.

Investigators said that evidence confirmed that Jeanette Gonzalez was behind the wheel traveling at 137 miles per hour seconds prior to impact. Her blood/alcohol level the night of the crash was 0.210, more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit of 0.08.

Gonzalez was taken into custody by the Lake Wales Police Department and transported to the Polk County Jail Processing Center.

The Lake Wales Police Department statement said that "our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Eliecer Padilla who died in the crash. The lives of those involved in this crash have been forever changed. This is a grim reminder to never drive while impaired and to never operate a motor vehicle in a reckless manner."

This investigation is very active and ongoing. If you have any information regarding this case, please 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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