POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities say a man was arrested for DUI after his truck was hit by one of two vehicles that were seen speeding side-by-side in Polk County. Nine people were hospitalized in total.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said a Dodge Journey carrying a group of teenagers was following a 2013 Dodge Charger driven by a teen from Plant City.
Deputies said the Journey tried to pass the Charger and moved into another lane, but the charger sped up, preventing the driver from passing.
The two vehicles were seen speeding side-by-side as they approached a stop sign at the intersection of Cherry Lane and Lunn Road.
Deputies said the driver of the Journey, 18-year-old Alexis Madrigal, slammed on the brakes while the Charger slowed down.
The Journey then traveled into the intersection and hit a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was driven by Gerald Nipper, according to deputies.
They said Nipper’s truck hit a tree and the Journey struck a telephone pole and then a tree.
A 17-year-old passenger in the Journey was rushed to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center in critical condition. The other six passengers sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
A 30-year-old woman in Nipper’s truck suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Both passengers in the Charger suffered minor injuries and have since been released from the hospital, deputies said.
Deputies detected the smell of alcohol on Nipper’s breath and said he failed field sobriety exercises.
He was arrested for DUI alcohol or drug, DUI and damage property and six counts of DUI and personal injury.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing with more charges pending against the two teen drivers.