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Three Family Members Killed in Polk County Head-on Collision

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on October 25, 2020

Authorities with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating a tragic fatal multi-vehicle accident that claimed the lives of four people late Friday evening along S.R. 60 near Indian Lake Estates in Lake Wales near Winter Haven. Preliminary reports indicate that an 83-year-old driver was traveling at an excessive speed when he attempted to pass another vehicle within a no-passing zone. This dangerous decision led to a catastrophic chain reaction of collisions along the roadway, as well as the unnecessary deaths of the driver and three additional innocent victims.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on October 23rd, 2020, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) and other officers in the surrounding vicinity of Indian Lake Estates responded to a call from dispatchers regarding an auto accident on State Road 60 involving multiple vehicles and possible fatalities. According to investigators with the PCSO, 83-year-old Phillip Penatello was driving his 2005 gray Ford F-150 pickup truck down the highway at a rate of speed much faster than the posted legal limit of 55 MPH for that specific stretch of road. As the Hobe Sound resident quickly approached a slower vehicle in front of him, he maneuvered his pickup truck into the westbound lane in order to pass the car. Whether or not the elderly driver was aware that he was entering a no-passing zone remains to be determined, but almost immediately after making this move, he crashed into 67-year-old Deborah Everett who was driving her 2013 white Nissan Frontier in the correct direction of the westbound traffic.

The impact from this initial collision was so forceful that it caused a tire to break away from the Nissan and fly into a nearby Toyota Corolla that was being driven by a 19-year-old Lakeland resident. The two drivers of these vehicles only suffered minor injuries, thankfully, but were understandably rattled from the situation that had just played out. Shockingly, the pickup truck driver was unphased by these events and continued on his path in the westbound lane until he crashed into a 2008 gray Nissan Altima carrying 4 members of the Salvador family from Palm Beach. Unlike the first crash, the results of this accident were devastatingly worse as 11-year-old Albert Salvador, 12-year-old Ashley Salvador, and 45-year-old Veruska Salvador all passed away due to the severity of the injuries they sustained in the accident. The sole survivor, 42-year-old Wagner Salvador, was medevaced to Osceola Regional Medical Center with multiple broken bones but in otherwise stable condition. Mr. Penatello was also taken to a local hospital, but he died shortly upon arrival.

The circumstances surrounding this terrible head-on collision are currently under investigation.


James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 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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