POLK COUNTY, FL. – On Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide detectives arrested 45-year-old Michelle English of Brandon for Culpable Negligent Manslaughter (F2) in connection to a November 24, 2021, fatal Interstate 4 crash.
In that crash, 47-year-old Lucretia Bruno of Lakeland was charged with DUI Manslaughter for driving into and killing a Holiday man and ramming his vehicle that was parked on the paved shoulder of the interstate near Exit 28 on I-4. Detectives learned that English, contrary to directions given to her by Lakeland Police Officers, handed Bruno her car keys to drive home knowing she was intoxicated.
The November 24, 2021, fatal crash killed a Holiday man on Interstate 4 West, and detectives arrested Bruno for DUI (M1), 2 counts of DUI with Property Damage (M1), and DUI Manslaughter (F2). Bruno was released from the Polk County Jail on a $26,500 bond following her first appearance hearing.
An analysis of a blood sample provided by Bruno showed she had a blood-alcohol level of .207 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The legal threshold for DUI is 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
Further evidence during the investigation revealed English and Bruno were out together the day of November 24th. They first met at Brewlands Bar and Billiards in Lakeland where Bruno began drinking just after 4:00 p.m.
About an hour later, the two left the bar together and traveled separately to Lucky’s Bar in Lakeland, where Bruno continued to consume alcohol. English was present, and along with others in the bar, witnessed Bruno’s impairment. Security video in the bar showed that Bruno was unstable and intoxicated.
Bruno left the bar at around 7:40 p.m. and drove to WaWa’s convenience store in Lakeland. Bruno entered the store and ordered a sandwich. Security video shows that while Bruno attempted to pay for the item, she was unstable on her feet, was swaying, and had difficulty paying with her credit card.
The clerk, recognizing that Bruno appeared to be very intoxicated, attempted to take Bruno’s car keys from her, but Bruno pulled them back from the clerk’s hands. Bruno later entered the restroom at WaWa’s and at some point dropped her keys there. She returned to her car in the parking lot without her keys. Another customer later retrieved the keys and turned them into the clerk at the register.
A store employee called the Lakeland Police Department to report an intoxicated person after her interaction with Bruno and LPD officers responded. When the officers arrived they found Bruno was intoxicated and had vomited on herself. She was found not to be in possession of her keys, so officers were unable to arrest her for DUI because they were unable to show evidence of her being in control of the vehicle. The officers called Bruno’s friend, Ms. English, and she agreed to pick up Bruno and drive her home because she was too intoxicated to drive. LPD officers stayed at the scene and they witnessed English and Bruno leave the store parking lot in English’s vehicle. The LPD officers also told the store clerk to not release the car keys to Bruno until morning.
A few minutes after the LPD officers left the parking lot, a witness observed English returning to the store parking lot with Bruno. Bruno exited the vehicle and went to her car where she sat in the driver’s seat.
At the same time, English entered the store, retrieved Bruno’s car keys, and returned to Bruno’s vehicle. The clerk thought English was picking up the keys to retrieve the car, not realizing English was going to give them to Bruno and allow her to drive. English, knowing Bruno was intoxicated and after being told by LPD officers Bruno could not drive, gave Bruno the car keys and watched as Bruno drove her car from the store.
Nine minutes later, Bruno struck and killed the man on I-4.
“Both of these women are responsible for this senseless death. If English had been a good friend she would have never let Bruno behind the wheel of a vehicle. Instead, nine minutes and seven miles after handing her intoxicated friend the keys to her car, a man’s life was needlessly lost,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
PCSO traffic detectives located English in Hillsborough County yesterday, January 12, and with the assistance of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, arrested English and transported her to HCSO Jail.
She will be transferred to the Polk County Jail. English’s previous criminal history includes 4 felonies for Driving on a Suspended License (Habitual Offender), Child Abuse, Fraud, and Grand Theft.
The security video of Lucretia Bruno and Michelle English recorded the day of the traffic fatality has been released. (November 24, 2021) Bruno is the dark-haired woman in a gray sweatshirt. English is the blonde-haired woman wearing dark colored leggings and fuzzy slippers.
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