Polk County Sheriff's Traffic Homicide deputies are investigating a vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter investigation that involved two vehicles on US Hwy 27 and Cypress Gardens Blvd in Winter Haven and caused the deaths of a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. The suspect driver was charged with Vehicular Homicide, DUI manslaughter and several other charges.
According to the affidavit, at approximately 10:19 p.m. Sunday, November 4, 2012, a 2010 Chrysler van was stopped at the intersection of US Hwy 27 and Cypress Gardens Blvd in reference to a red light. The Chrysler van was in the outside southbound lane and was north of the intersection. The Chrysler van was occupied by the driver, 32 year-old Tawnya T. White, DOB 04-25-1980 of 8025 ABC Road in Bartow, and her three passengers, including Tiffany Ann Woodham of Bartow who was 9 months pregnant with a baby girl.
While the van was parked at the red light, a 2012 Silver Dodge Ram was travelling southbound on US Hwy 27 from the Dundee area. The Silver Dodge pickup driven by 37 year-old Thomas Jeremy Dick, DOB 07-14-1975 of 7478 East 48th Apt. 113, Tulsa, Oklahoma was observed by a witness to be driving recklessly and thought the driver may be impaired. The Silver Dodge pickup was speeding and ran off the road on more than one occasion.
The Dodge pickup approached the Chrysler van just as the southbound traffic signal switched to a green light. The Dodge pickup collided with the rear of Chrysler. Both vehicles continued southbound after initial impact. The Dodge pickup began to rotate around the Chrysler van which was also rotated. The Chrysler van came to rest on the inside lane of eastbound Cypress Gardens Blvd, approx. 30 feet west of US Hwy 27. The Dodge pickup came to rest on the southern shoulder of Cypress Gardens Blvd, also approx. 30 feet west of US Hwy 27. The encroachment of the Dodge into the rear of the Chrysler was nearly 5 feet.
Dick was observed by the witness to exit the vehicle after final rest. Law enforcement officers detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.
Occupants of the Chrysler Van, all of whom are from Bartow:
The driver, 32-year-old Tawnya T. White, who was taken to Winter Haven hospital and treated for bruises and lacerations.
Right rear seat passenger, 22-year-old Zachary Dave Rowles, who was transported to Winter Haven Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Front right seat passenger, 37-year-old Pamela Diane Cheverier, who was flown to LRMC with serious injuries.
Left rear seat passenger, 19-year-old Tiffany Ann Woodham, who suffered severe trauma during the crash. She succumbed to her injuries while en route to the hospital. An emergency C-Section was performed in an attempt to save her baby, however, the baby also died as a result of injuries sustained during the crash.
Further investigation revealed that Thomas J. Dick was exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 20 MPH leading up to the impact of the Chrysler. This was a violation of Florida State Statute (FSS) 316.187 "Unlawful Speed." According to initial toxicology, Dick had a Blood Alcohol Content of .131 which is almost twice the legal limit of presumed impairment. A blood draw was taken from the suspect, which will be sent to the FDLE lab for analysis.
Thomas J. Dick is in PCSO custody at an area hospital, and he will be transported to the Polk County Jail upon his medical release.
Dick has been charged with two counts of Vehicular Homicide, two counts of DUI Manslaughter, two counts of DUI involving Serious Bodily Injury, DUI crash involving property damage and DUI.
US Hwy 27 S. was closed until 5:30 AM Monday, November 5, 2012.