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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wood, Donna

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 5/9/2014 

 PCSO Traffic Homicide Deputies Arrest Hit and Run Suspect 

Shortly after 9:00 am, on Friday, May 9, 2014, Polk County Sheriff's Office Traffic Homicide deputies arrested 23-year-old Darrius Jadon Austin, DOB 11/23/1990, 840 Sunset Cove Road, Winter Haven , charging him with Leaving the Scene of a Crash Resulting in Death, and DWLSR.


Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, Austin was driving a white, 2013 Chevy Malibu which crashed into a semi-truck traveling north on Fish Hatchery Road.  The semi was crossing through the intersection at Saddle Creek Road when the collision occurred.  The impact caused the semi to jack-knife.  Austin’s passenger, 24-year-old China Harris, was critically injured and ultimately died as a result of her injuries.


At the time, the driver’s identity was unclear.  He was described as a slender black male with short hair, wearing a white T-shirt who had fled the scene on foot.  Through their investigation, deputies learned the driver crawled over the injured passenger to exit the Malibu before fleeing and never summoned help for her.  Evidence was taken from the scene to include what appeared to be blood samples from the driver-side airbag which had deployed during the crash.


Through their investigation, Traffic Homicide deputies learned Austin was possibly the driver at the time of the crash. 


Austin was arrested by Winter Haven Police on December 6, 2013, three days later, and charged with Possession of Weapon/Ammo by Convicted Felon, Robbery, Failure to Appear, and Probation Violation.  During the process of Austin’s arrest, a DNA buccal swab had been taken.   


When deputies learned about the December 6th arrest and collection of DNA evidence, they were able to submit evidence collected from the scene along with DNA buccal swab evidence from Austin’s Winter Haven arrest and submit both to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement laboratory in Tampa. 


Results from the comparison confirmed Austin was the driver in the December 3rd crash.  Austin was taken into custody today, as he was leaving the Polk County Courthouse after a court hearing about a pending Attempted Robbery charge for which he had been previously arrested.


“Mr. Austin has proven he has no regard for human life or for obeying the law.  In less than three days he walked away from a crash that killed an innocent girl, and was arrested on Robbery charges,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.  “Our Traffic Homicide deputies are among the best in the business.  Their dedication and meticulous attention to detail in gathering evidence at traffic scenes has once again put a criminal behind bars – and this one needs to stay there.”


Austin was sentenced to state prison in 2010; he has been booked into the Polk County Jail 9 times since 2008.  He has been arrested by Winter Haven Police, Lake Alfred Police, Auburndale Police, and the PCSO. 


His arrest history includes:


21 Felonies

17 Misdemeanors

2 Failure to Appear