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Driver Charged with DUI Manslaughter for Role in Fatal Lakeland Semi Collision

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on January 16, 2021

A 31-year-old Highland City man has been arrested and charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter for his direct connection to a fatal drunk driver accident that occurred back on November 20th, 2020, which subsequently killed two men, according to the latest developments in the case reported by officials with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

It was just a few days before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend on November 20th, 2020 at approximately 9:30 p.m. when two Lakeland men, 34-year-old Christopher Lofton and 38-year-old David Weldon, were riding along as passengers in a 2018 Chevy Silverado pickup truck that was being driven by 31-year-old Highland City resident Justin Mathis. As the three men were travelling down southbound U.S. 98 near County Road 540-A, their vehicle entered the same vicinity as 59-year-old Tampa resident Daniel Mariscal who was driving a semi-truck. For reasons that are currently unknown, but are presumably attributable to the high amounts of alcohol in Mr. Mathis’ system, he crashed his Chevy Silverado into the driver’s side of the big rig with so much force that the pickup became wedged underneath the semi’s 53-foot box trailer.

Collision reports from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and additional first responders to the crash site indicated that both Mr. Lofton and Mr. Weldon passed away at the scene due to their seating positions within the Silverado – both victims were situated on the passenger’s side of the pickup truck which sustained the most severe damage from the impact. The driver of the Chevy, Justin Mathis, was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was treated for minor facial lacerations. After Mr. Mathis was officially admitted, authorities issued a warrant to test his blood in order to determine if he was under the influence at the time of the fatal accident. Test results concluded that his blood alcohol level was 0.25, which is nearly three times the legal limit for Florida.

Since 1977, Orlando DUI accident attorney James O. Cunningham has been fighting for the rights of victims who have been injured or killed due to the negligence of drunk drivers. If you would like to schedule a free 30-minute case evaluation, please contact our firm today at 877-FL-INJURY for more information.


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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