During the early morning hours of Saturday, January 17, 2015, PCSO Traffic deputies arrested a DUI Manslaughter suspect just hours after he ran over and killed a motor scooter driver and then fled the scene.
According to the affidavit, around 12:50 a.m. this morning, 23-year-old Michael Mallia was heading westbound on Shepherd Road on his 2014 red Bashan motor scooter when he was struck from behind by a green SUV that was also heading westbound. The impact occurred near the driveway of 2525 Shepherd Road. The SUV pushed the scooter approximately 150 feet before Mallia was ejected, causing his helmet to come off. Mallia landed on the ground approximately 200 feet west of the point of impact. The green SUV fled the scene after the crash. A passer-by saw the debris and the victim and called 9-1-1. First responders arrived but Mallia succumbed to his injuries and was deceased on-scene.
PCSO Traffic deputies responded to the scene and recovered debris indicating that the at-fault vehicle was a green SUV, Ford or Lincoln model. Deputies responded to the nearby Carlton Arms apartment complex to search for vehicles matching that description. Security personnel advised deputies that a green Lincoln Navigator with front-end damage came into the complex around 1:00 a.m., and then left. Security personnel advised deputies of the registered owner of the vehicle. While deputies were talking with security personnel, the registered owner of the vehicle showed up at the complex, with passenger Lorenzo Martinez, DOB 12/28/1986,of 1809 Mahaffey Circle in Lakeland.
Deputies confirmed that Lorenzo was operating the SUV at the time of the crash, came to Carlton Arms, left the apartment complex, abandoned the SUV on County Line Road and called the owner of the SUV to come pick him up. Deputies collected the Navigator and are processing it at this time. It has front-end damage consistent with the debris left at the scene.
Martinez's Florida driver license was suspended in November 2013. Martinez told deputies he was driving the Lincoln Navigator west on Shepherd Road when he saw the motor scooter in front of him, attempted to change lanes, and then heard the impact. He then left the scene without stopping to render aid or alert law enforcement. While speaking with deputies, they noted the odor of alcohol on Martinez's breath. They gave Martinez three standard field sobriety tests, all of which indicated that Martinez was inebriated. A blood sample was obtained and will be sent for toxicological testing.
Martinez was placed under arrested and charged with: one count DLWSR Causing Death, one count DUI Manslaughter, and one count Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Death. He has been in the Polk County Jail on five prior occasions, several times for No Valid DL, and also for Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia, and Resisting Arrest.
"Great police work and the cooperation of citizens, such as the passer-by who called 9-1-1 and Carlton Arms security guard Marco Torres, resulted in the swift apprehension of this criminal. This tragic situation could have been avoided if Lorenzo Martinez wasn't illegally driving, and even worse, drinking and driving. He belongs in jail, and never again behind the wheel." - Sheriff Grady Judd