POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Brandon woman faces charges related to a deadly crash on Interstate 4 that involved a Lakeland elementary school employee on November 2021.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Michelle English, 45, of Brandon was arrested Wednesday in connection to the deadly crash after she allowed her friend 47-year-old Lucretia Bruno, a Lakeland elementary school employee, to drive home drunk after an evening at the bar.
Deputies said security video shows Bruno drunkenly attempting to pay for an item at a WaWa store. When a store clerk noticed Bruno’s heavy intoxication, they attempted to take Bruno’s car keys from her, but Bruno pulled them back from the clerk’s hands.
Moments later, Bruno dropped her keys on the way to the bathroom where she vomited on herself. At the same time, the employee called the Lakeland Police Department to report Bruno’s intoxication.
When the officers arrived they found Bruno but were unable to arrest her since she did not possess her keys.
According to deputies, English was called and agreed to pick up Bruno to drive her home. LPD officers waited until they saw English and Bruno leave the store parking lot.
A few minutes after the officers left the parking lot, a witness said English entered the store, retrieved Bruno’s car keys, and gave them to Bruno.
Deputies said Bruno drove away from the store before she hit and killed a Holiday man approximately nine minutes later.
Brent Kirkendall spoke about his father who died that night to News Channel 8 and says he is someone who can never be replaced.
“He was a great man and we miss him dearly and it’s difficult because I’ll never have another conversation,” Kirkendall said.
An analysis of a blood sample provided by Bruno showed she had a blood-alcohol level of .207. The legal threshold for DUI is 0.08.
“Heck, who knows, maybe they can both plead guilty and go to the same prison and have some conversations like, ’that was really stupid of me to give you those keys,’” Sheriff Judd said.
English was charged with culpable negligent manslaughter. Bruno was charged with 2 counts of DUI with property damage and DUI manslaughter.