On Friday, May 5, 2017, deputies arrested 31-year-old Jarrod Lee of Frostproof, for one count vehicular homicide (F2), after he struck a Yamaha motorcycle and killed 40-year-old Philip Brown of Lakeland. Around 5:52 a.m., on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Lee was driving westbound on County Road 630 in Fort Meade, with excessive speed, and drove into the eastbound lane passing two other vehicles. Visibility conditions were poor due to thick fog and low light; he did not see the motorcycle as it approached in the eastbound lane.
The following is from the affidavit and is self-explanatory:
On the morning of 03/01/17, at approximately 5:52 AM Vehicle 1 (V1), driven by Jarrod W Lee, was driving westbound on CR 630 east of Ft. Meade, Polk County, Florida. Lee was placed behind the wheel by his post Miranda statement and his passenger's statement.
CR 630 is a two lane undivided rural road which travels east and west. The roadway in the area of the crash is straight, flat, and is a passing zone for both directions of travel.
V1 was a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck being operated by Jarrod Lee. Lee was westbound following a pickup truck pulling a utility trailer, which was in turn following Vehicle 2 (V2), a Toyota Camry. At the same time, a motorcycle (V3) was travelling eastbound on CR 630. The motorcycle was operated by the victim, Philip Martin Brown.
As he was travelling west, Lee left the westbound lane and entered the eastbound lane, passing the pickup truck and trailer. Lee continued westbound in the eastbound lane attempting to pass the Toyota. As Lee was beside the Toyota, the eastbound motorcycle driven by Brown approached. Lee swerved to the right sideswiping the Toyota and preventing V1 from vacating the eastbound lane. The left front corner of V1 impacted the front of the motorcycle. The motorcycle rider (Brown) was ejected and partially entered the windshield of V1. Brown was subsequently thrown onto the south shoulder of the road. At that time Brown was utilizing a helmet, but died instantly.
According to statements, there was heavy fog at the time of the crash in addition to it remaining dark at the time of the crash. Lee (V1 driver) stated that the fog "was kind of thick". The front right passenger in V1 (R. Jaramillo) stated that it was foggy. Jaramillo stated if he would have "seen eight feet it would have been a miracle".
The driver of the Toyota (James Kelly) stated that it was "really foggy". Kelly said he was only driving about 45 MPH due to the fog. The front seat passenger in the Toyota (Tiffany Collier) stated that it was "very very foggy". Two co-workers of the victim who drove CR 630 that morning were also interviewed. Don Webb said he had ridden the route before the crash and the fog was "almost impassable". Webb said that near the time of the crash he was at work which is less than a mile from the crash and that there were "white out conditions". Webb said visibility was approximately 25 feet. Webb said the fog was the worst he had observed in 17 years of working and driving in the area.
Mac Cunningham said he had ridden to the area before the crash and that the fog was thick enough that he was "travelling about 1/3rd normal speed". Cunningham said that near the time of the crash, visibility was approximately 100 yards.
Crash Data Recorder readings from V1 indicated that 5 seconds prior to the crash/recorded event Lee was driving with the throttle position at 99% open and 79 MPH. At 1.5 seconds prior to the impact the throttle position remained 99% open with a speed of 88 MPH. At .5 seconds prior to the impact the throttle position was 28% open and the speed of V1 was 68 MPH. The lawfully posted speed limit is 55 MPH.
The above described driving actions of Jerrod Lee and the weather conditions at the time place Lee in violation of FSS 316.085(1) improper passing meeting oncoming traffic; FSS 316.183(4) Speeding Failing to use Due Care; FSS 316.185 Speeding Special Hazards. Combined the violations constitute FSS 316.192(1)(a) Willful and Wanton Reckless Driving. The Willful and Wanton Reckless Driving directly caused the death of Philip Brown constituting a violation of FSS 782.071 Vehicular Homicide.
Lee has a previous criminal history dating back to 2007 with 15 felony and 11 misdemeanor charges including: hit and run, criminal mischief, burglary, trespassing, grand theft, felony petit theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, arson, battery, and probation violation.
"A man who was on his way to work, obeying all traffic laws, died as a result of Jarrod Lee's reckless driving. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of driving cautiously and responsibly during inclement weather. A man lost his life and another man faces prison time due to speeding in the fog." Grady Judd, Sheriff
Lee was taken into custody on the aforementioned charges, and booked into the Polk County Jail being held on a $50,000 bond.