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Polk County Drunk Driver Accident Kills 22-Year-Old on July 4th

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on July 8, 2021

As the amount of Independence Day celebrations all over the United States expectedly skyrocketed to an all-time high this year, especially here in Florida, so have the number of fatal auto accidents involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Such is the case for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office as authorities were called to the scene of a deadly wrong-way collision over the weekend which claimed the life of a 22-year-old Haines City resident.

According to preliminary accident reports from the responding officers with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, it was approximately 5:30 a.m. on the 4th of July when 46-year-old Dawn Nathaniel was driving a 2017 Kia Optima in the wrong direction of traffic along Marigold Avenue close to its intersection with Walnut Street. As Nathaniel continued to drive in the northern direction within the southbound lane of traffic, she quickly came upon a 2018 Toyota which was being driven by 22-year-old Phalande Celestin from Haines City, Florida. Although it appears that Celestin attempted to swerve her Toyota away from its collision course with the Kia Optima, her defensive driving efforts proved to be futile as the two vehicles crashed into one another head-on.

Polk County emergency response teams and additional law enforcement agencies were immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident to assist the injured individuals, however, due to the severity of the injuries she sustained in the collision, the 22-year-old was unable to survive and she passed away at the crash site.

The 46-year-old driver of the Kia Optima, Dawn Nathaniel of Kissimmee, was in the process of being transported to a local hospital to receive treatment for minor injuries when Polk County deputies first noticed the unmistakable odor of alcohol permeating from her person and vehicle. Arrest records indicate that Nathaniel admitted to drinking and smoking marijuana prior to the fatal auto accident, with breathalyzer tests confirming this statement as the results recorded a blood alcohol level of .058 and .059. The alleged drunk driver suspect has been arrested and faces life-altering felony charges of DUI manslaughter, DUI with property damage, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence.

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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