POLK COUNTY, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide Unit is investigating a traffic crash in unincorporated Winter Haven this morning that resulted in the tragic death of a 15-year-old male Auburndale High School student.
According to deputies, at around 5:50 a.m. Tuesday, the PCSO ECC received 911 calls from the area of 34th Street NW and Avenue S NW regarding a Dodge Durango that had collided with a teen riding a scooter.
The teen, identified as Yeriel Gonzalez, 15, of Winter Haven, was declared deceased at the scene.
He was operating a small black-and-white electric scooter near the center of the southbound lane of 34th St, heading to a friend’s house.
Deputies say the 2016 gray Dodge Durango was driven by 29-year-old John Barrett III of Winter Haven and was heading northbound on 34th Street; Barrett was on his way to work.
The Durango was behind another vehicle as it approached the intersection with Avenue S NW. Barrett told deputies he swerved to avoid some dogs that ran into the roadway, and entered into the southbound lane, and into the path of Gonzalez, who struck the right front of the SUV.
“PCSO Chaplains responded to the scene and met with the boy’s family, and the PCSO Safe Schools Division is working with Polk County Public Schools to provide assistance to the Auburndale High School faculty, staff, and students during this difficult time. Yeriel’s family is in our prayers,” said PCSO.