Around 7:47 a.m. on Thursday, December 26, 2013, PCSO received a call in reference to a car that was seen by a Florida Refuse Truck on Country Club Road South, between Dundee Rd and Lake Hamilton Road, upside down and about 2/3 submerged in water in what can be described as a creek or ditch. The wood fence where the car appears to have entered the embankment and down into the water was also broken. The car could not be seen from the roadway by passers-by or a normal sized vehicle. The Florida Refuse workers were able to see down the embankment thanks to their height advantage from inside their work truck.
Winter Haven Police, PCSO Deputies, Fire/EMS, and the PCSO dive team arrived on-scene. There were no signs of life from within the car during the numerous efforts by first responders to locate any survivors. The front end of the car was completely submerged, and a portion of the back end was sticking up out of the water.
Around 11:45 a.m., the deputies on the dive team who were in the water heard noises coming from within the car. They established communication from a man who was inside the car, telling deputies he was cold and needed help. Up until this point in time the victim had made no noise and did not respond to any of the first responders' efforts to locate survivors.
The dive team, comprised of Deputy Sheriff Jeff Kistler and Deputy Sheriff Bob Clayton, rescued the adult male victim, who was a back seat passenger during the time of the crash. The victim, who was positively identified as 22-year-old Robert Lewis Edwards of Boca Raton, was submerged in the water up to his neck. He was taken to Winter Haven Hospital to be treated for hypothermia and other injuries.
Deputies are still trying to determine exactly when and how the crash occurred. Preliminarily, based on interviews with victims' friends and family and phone calls they received from the victims last evening, it appears the victims were at Indigo's bar on US 17 in Winter Haven last evening (December 25, 2013) and that the crash occurred around 2:00 a.m. this morning (December 26, 2013) after they left Indigo's and while they were enroute to a friend's house in the area of where the crash occurred.
So far it does appear that this car was the only car involved, and that it was heading northbound on Country Club Road when, for unknown reasons, it left the roadway across the southbound lane, through a fence, down an embankment, ending up upside down in the water. The depth of the water is about 5 feet.
The dive team located two deceased victims in the front of the car, which was completely submerged.
The deceased driver has been positively identified as 25-year-old Rafael Fernandes de Aguiar Valim of Winter Haven. The Mitsubishi involved is registered to him, and he was driving.
The deceased front-seat passenger: 23-year-old Taylor Jeffrey Bowden of Winter Haven.
Alcohol and excessive speed appear to be a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing. Autopsies on both deceased victims will be conducted to determine cause and approximate times of death.