Lakeland elementary school employee kills Holiday man in DUI crash night before Thanksgiving, police say

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — An employee at a Lakeland elementary school was arrested for driving under the influence and DUI manslaughter after she hit and killed a Holiday man along Interstate 4 Wednesday night.

Police say two vehicles, a 1999 Ford F-250 pickup truck and 2014 Ford Mustang, were stopped under an overpass along I-4 after they were involved in a minor crash. After the drivers exchanged information, the driver of the pickup truck returned to the driver’s side of his car.

Simultaneously, Lucretia Bruno, a secretary at Padgette Elementary School, was driving her sedan down I-4. Police said Bruno was driving erratically and drifting over the right fog line several times before she struck the driver’s side of the F-250 pick-up truck and the driver who was standing at the opened door.

Reports say the crash propelled the driver of the pickup truck into Bruno’s windshield. The driver of the pick-up truck died at the scene.

Witnesses told police they saw Bruno stumble from her car and hold on to her vehicle’s trunk to steady herself.

Bruno later told deputies she had just left a bar where she drank five or six beers before she left to make her way home.

According to an affidavit, Bruno’s eyes were watery, her speech was slurred and deputies observed her to be unsteady on her feet as she swayed from side to side, losing her balance several times.

“There is never an excuse to drink and drive. A family has lost a loved one because of this woman decided to get behind the wheel of a car after consuming 5 or more beers,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “There are so many alternative options available, from calling a friend or family member to using a ride-sharing application. Please, this holiday season, and throughout the year, don’t drink and drive.”

Bruno was arrested for DUI, 2 counts of DUI with property damage and DUI manslaughter. She is currently in the Polk County Jail with no bond.

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