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Lake Wales
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Haines City Man Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter In Deadly Lake Wales Crash


The driver in a fatal single-vehicle crash near Lake Wales last month, was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Tuesday, July 11, 2023. 

Detectives from Traffic Homicide Investigations charged 19-year old Damien Fletcher of Haines City with Vehicular Homicide (F2); a 19-year old male passenger in Fletcher’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was killed in the June 29th crash, and the victim’s 16-year old brother also received minor injuries.

“Reckless, stupid driving—plain and simple. Because of that, a young man is dead, the victim’s brother was injured, and a family is left with a great void in their lives. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them. The detectives did great work uncovering the facts.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff.

At the onset of the investigation, Fletcher told detectives that he lost control of the Jeep while trying to avoid hitting an animal.

Detectives reviewed the vehicle’s Electronic Data Recorder which showed that the Jeep was traveling 104mph in a 55 mph zone, 1.5 seconds before the crash. The data showed no braking or steering which refuted Fletcher’s claim of trying to avoid an animal.

Witnesses who spoke with detectives said the Jeep passed them at a high rate of speed in a no-passing zone, and shut off the Jeep’s headlights just prior to the crash, which occurred at about 10:29 pm.

A PCSO detective presented the findings to Fletcher on Tuesday and he confirmed them to be true. He was arrested at that time and taken to the PCSO Sheriff’s Processing Center.

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Staff Reporter

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