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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, CarrieNo presence information

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 3/22/2013 

 At-Fault Driver Charged in Multi-Vehicle Traffic Crash in Southeast Winter Haven/Waverly 


PCSO deputies have formally charged 21-year-old Jeffrey A. Harris (DOB 1/18/1992) of Lake Placid with Driving While License Suspended/Revoked Causing Death, in yesterday's crash that occurred in southeast Winter Haven on US Hwy 27. He remains in the hospital with a deputy guarding him, but he does not have life-threatening injuries and is expected to be released in the next few days.

When he is released, deputies will transport him directly to the Polk County Jail. 

According to the Department of Corrections, Harris was released from the Lake City Correctional Facility yesterday (March 20, 2013). It appears Harris was heading home to Lake Placid, heading south on US 27, after just having been released from prison. Although Harris does not have a valid driver's license, he was driving the at-fault vehicle in the three-vehicle traffic crash that occurred on US Hwy 27. The crash (see details below) resulted in the death of Harris' passenger, 20-year-old Suleyka Najera; significant damage to two other vehicles; and injuries to four other victims. 

More charges against Harris are pending, as the investigation is ongoing.

Harris' DOC release details can be found by clicking this link:

http://www.dc.state.fl.us/InmateReleases/detail.asp?Bookmark=14&From=list&SessionID=306176247

"Yesterday we had two examples of drivers who caused great bodily injury and even death, because they were violating traffic laws. Glenn McCarthy failed to stop for a school bus, and hit a 7-year-old little girl who is lucky to be alive. Jeffrey Harris, the same day he was released from prison, got behind the wheel of a car when he had no valid license, and caused a major traffic crash, hurting several people and killing a 20-year-old woman. Traffic laws are no different than any other laws we have in place - they are there for a reason - to keep people safe. If you violate the law and hurt someone, you will go to jail, period." - Sheriff Grady Judd

 

Preliminary details about the crash: Around 5:55 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, a 2001 Nissan four-door car driven by Jeffrey Harris of Lake Placid was heading southbound on US Hwy 27 about 1,000 feet north of the intersection with CR 540 (Cypress Gardens Blvd) when for unknown reasons Harris lost control and the car crossed the median and entered into the southbound lanes of US Hwy 27. 

Harris' car struck a 2013 Nissan SUV which was heading northbound, causing the SUV to flip over and land along the east side of the roadway. 

A 2006 Saturn Vue which was also heading northbound then struck Harris' car - those two vehicles collided, causing great damage to both vehicles and instantly killing the front seat passenger of the Nissan car. 

Occupants of the at-fault Nissan car: 

Driver:  21-year-old Jeffrey Harris of 313 Poinsettia Avenue in Lake Placid; taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center 

Front seat passenger20-year-old Suleyka Najera of 119 Sunflower Drive in Lake Placid; deceased on-scene

Occupants of the Nissan SUV: 

Driver: 39-year-old Raquel Fox of 7742 Linkside Loop in Reunion, FL; taken to Heart of Florida Hospital 

Front seat passenger: her 16-year-old son, Rashad Fox, of the same address; taken to Heart of Florida Hospital 

Occupants of the Saturn Vue: 

Driver: 81-year-old Royce Pierson of #10 Deeley Way in Lake Wales; taken to LRMC 

Front seat passenger: his 79-year-old wife, Constance Pierson, of the same address; taken to LRMC