Polk County Sheriff’s Traffic deputies are working a two-vehicle crash this morning (Sunda, April 28, 2013) in Lakeland that resulted in three fatalities. Preliminary information is as follows:
Around 2:40 a.m. on Sunday, April 28, 2013, a red 2006 Chrysler Sebring was stopped at the stop sign on Shepherd Road facing eastbound, at the intersection with Coronet Road, in Lakeland.
A witness in another vehicle was stopped at the stop sign on Coronet Road facing southbound. As the witness began to move forward through the intersection, and the Sebring began to move forward as well, the witness was forced off the road by a beige 2000 GMC pickup truck which was heading at a high rate of speed going northbound on Coronet Road.
The pickup truck collided with the Sebring, propelling both vehicles approximately 150 feet north through the intersection, and causing both vehicles to flip over onto their roofs.
The at-fault driver of the GMC pickup truck, 21-year-old Edward Casey McCoy (DOB 1/17/92) of 4435 Old Government Road in Lakeland was transported to LRMC with several broken bones. Impairment appears to be a factor, and excessive speed may also be a factor. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
The occupants of the Sebring are:
Driver – 56-year-old Dorothy Operhall of 3387 Heather Glynn Drive in Mulberry – she was declared deceased on scene.
Front seat passenger – 48-year-old Melina Helbig of 460 Mecklen Avenue in Rochester, PA – she was declared deceased on scene.
Two rear seat passengers – 51-year-old Leonard Simmons of 3387 Heather Glynn Drive in Mulberry (Dorothy’s common law husband/live-in boyfriend) – he was declared deceased on scene; and 50-year-old Robert Helbig, Jr., of 460 Mecklen Avenue in Rochester, PA (Melina’s husband) – he was transported to LRMC and is in critical condition.
All of the occupants of the Sebring were wearing their seatbelts. The occupants of the Sebring are related to each other – two of the people in the car are siblings (brother and sister) but at this time we are unclear which two. The Helbigs were here visiting from Pennsylvania. They were returning to the Operhall/Simmons home from the Hard Rock Café in Tampa when the crash occurred.
Charges against McCoy are pending final toxicology results and the medical condition of the surviving victim.
The roadways were closed for approximately eight hours, and have been re-opened. The investigation is ongoing.