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Deadly Winter Haven crash remains under investigation as drivers recover

Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Winter Haven teenager and his younger sister are now orphans following a deadly crash in Polk County Sunday.

Their father, 57-year-old Sandeep Beri, died in the crash. The children’s mother died in December.

“All of these fatal crashes are heartbreaking but this makes it exceptionally bad,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “This scene was absolutely horrific. The two cars hit head-on and exploded.”

Sheriff Judd and his deputies responded to the scene on Cypress Gardens Boulevard on Sunday around noon.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says a 22-year-old driver suddenly swerved through the median and into oncoming traffic.

“It wasn’t seconds. It was probably fractions of a second that she went from her lane of travel head-on into the vehicle. There was no time to react,” said Sheriff Judd.

It’s still unclear why. As of Monday afternoon, investigators still were not able to speak with the 22-year-old as she recovers from injuries sustained in the crash.

“I’m not a traffic expert. I saw no evidence of any braking before the vehicle went into the median,” said Sheriff Judd. “It went into the median at an angle because you could see all four tires digging through the grass.”

As of Monday morning, the 22-year-old was listed in critical but stable condition and was expected to survive, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver of the other vehicle was Sandeep Beri’s 15-year-old son. Beri’s 7-year-old daughter was also in the car.

Courtesy: Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Crash scene pictures show a “Student Driver” bumper sticker on the Beri vehicle.

“There is zero indication that he did anything but appropriately operate that motor vehicle. He was driving according to the rules,” said Sheriff Judd.

As of Monday morning, the 15-year-old driver was stable in the hospital and expected to recover, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The 7-year-old was treated and is expected to be released from the hospital, the sheriff’s office said.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is requesting anybody who witnessed the crash to reach out to PCSO.

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