Usually, early Monday mornings in Winter Garden are peaceful times, when most of the city’s residents are asleep, resting before the first workday of their week. This past Monday, however, proved to be a disastrous and deadly exception. It began when a deputy for the Lake County Sheriff’s office spotted Darius Wilvenson, a 23-year-old Groveland resident, running a red light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and Washington Street.
Driving a two-door ford, Wilvenson’s failure to stop for the clearly red signal caused the deputy to immediacy begin pursuit. According to a report given by Lt. John Herrell, a Lake County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson, it is not abnormal for there to be drunk drivers operating their cars in the earliest hours of the morning. The pursuing deputy made several attempts to pull the Wilvenson over. During the second try, Wilvenson then tried to run the deputy over. The pursuit continued until Wilvenson’s car passed out of Lake County and into Orange County. At this point, the deputy ceased to pursue the clearly dangerous driver because, according to Lt. Harrell, the deputy deemed the danger to himself outweighed the importance of capturing the fleeing driver.
Unfortunately, Wilvenson’s experiences with the police were not to end here. Reaching Oakland, Darius Wilvenson was driving eastward along Colonial Drive when he attempted to make a left turn onto Oakland Avenue. Drifting from one lane to another, Wilvenson’s car crashed into a two-door Nissan being driven by the 19-year-old Carlos Sanchez Santiago, who was driving in the westbound lanes Colonial Drive. Despite the efforts of the emergency response teams, Santiago was declared to be dead at the scene of the incident.
Wilvenson was arrested and found to be carrying a handgun. He was also operating his vehicle while on a suspended license. Several active warrants were still outstanding for the individual’s arrest due to a various number of traffic incidents. Furthermore, the deputies who inspected the car found three different driver’s licenses. Each of them bore Wilvenson’s picture but with a separate name beneath them all.
The current charges leveled against Wilvenson are those of homicide, operating a vehicle with a suspended license, and negligent manslaughter.
The family of Carlos Sanchez Santiago have set up a GoFundMe page in order to help them pay for the young man’s funeral.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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