Man loses 3 relatives, woman and 2 children, after head-on crash in Lake Wales

Polk County

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) — A 42-year-old man lost three family members, a woman and two children, after being hit head-on by a wrong-way driver Friday night in Lake Wales.

The crash occurred in a rural area around 10:30 p.m. on State Road 60 about one mile east of County Road 630 near Indian Lake Estates.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said an F-150 being driven by 83-year-old Phillip Penatello of Hobe Sound, Florida, was speeding in the eastbound lanes of SR-60. Despite being in a no-pass zone, deputies said he entered the westbound lane to pass a vehicle.

Penatello struck two vehicles traveling westbound, but not head-on. The two drivers suffered minor injuries. Penatello continued in the eastbound lanes where he eventually struck a Nissan Altima head on.

The Altima was driven by 42-year-old Palm Beach resident Wagner Salvador, who suffered multiple broken bones but is in stable condition. Passengers in Salvador’s vehicle were 45-year-old Veruska Salvador, 12-year-old Ashley Salvador, and 11-year-old Albert Salvador. All three passengers died. They were all wearing seatbelts.

The wrong-way driver, Penatello, did not survive the crash either. Investigators say it does not appear he was wearing a seatbelt.

The roadway was closed for approximately six hours while the sheriff’s office investigated. Due to the death of the suspected at-fault driver, no criminal charges are pending.


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