Gas station customer in Polk County dies after car crashes into building

Local News

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A man standing at the counter of a gas station in Winter Haven was killed after a car crashed into the building Sunday morning.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said 52-year-old William “Bill” Clabough, of Bartow, was standing at the counter of the Marathon gas station at 2600 Havendale Blvd. around 4:50 a.m. when a car crashed into the store and pinned him down.

Photo Courtesy: William Mark Clabough

“Nothing can prepare you for something like this that is so – what [are] the odds? What [are] the odds of you going to a store and you go to pay something at the counter and then a car comes crashing through the wall and pins you to the wall?” asked Clabough’s father, William Mark Clabough.

William Mark Clabough tells 8 On Your Side his son was a gentle man, who had grandchildren.

“He was very kind. I have never seen him in a fight in my life. Never fought anybody. Never hit anybody,” he said.

The sheriff’s office said a driver of a Kia Optima was speeding west on Havendale and when they entered the east bound lanes, went over the concrete curb, struck a Mustang at a gas pump, and crashed into the store.

“If I could have reacted I would have, but there wasn’t a split second to react,” said Mark Murphy, the gas station clerk who was ringing Clabough up at the register. “It’s been weighing very heavily on my mind, to see somebody die right in front of you.”

Clabough, who was standing at the counter of the store at the time, was pinned by the Optima until first responders arrived. He was then transported to Winter Haven Hospital where he later died.

The car missed Murphy by inches.

“It was fate that saved me. Six inches is not very much,” said Murphy.

Murphy said the driver did not show remorse.

“The guy that got out of the car, the first thing he did was look over and say ‘it ain’t my fault. My brakes went out,” said Murphy.

The driver of the Optima was transported to a local hospital. Deputies suspect the unidentified driver was impaired at the time of the crash, and charges are anticipated.

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