Polk County man accused of hitting, killing girlfriend with car while drunk

Polk County

Courtesy: Polk Co. Sheriff’s Office

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman was killed after being hit by her boyfriend’s car down the road from where they had been drinking, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies found Fort Meade resident Deborah Hershberger, 40, dead in the middle of Scenic Highway in Babson Park late Saturday night.

Hershberger’s boyfriend, 40-year-old Charles Polen of Fort Meade, was arrested when deputies discovered he was the one that struck and killed her with his car.

A woman called 911 around 11:20 p.m. when she thought she struck a woman while driving on Scenic Highway. She wasn’t completely sure if she hit her, however, as she swerved to avoid contact. When deputies arrived, they determined the woman’s vehicle was not the one that struck Hershberger, who deputies said showed trauma to her head and body.

While investigating the incident, deputies said Herberger’s boyfriend, Polen, approached the scene on foot and had to be restrained from the area as he was asking if the victim was his girlfriend.

Polen reportedly told deputies that he and Hershberger had been drinking at a nearby bar & grill when she walked off.

When confronted with the fact that Polen’s vehicle had front-end damage and blood on it, deputies said Polen added to his story.

Polen reportedly admitted that after Hershberger left the bar, he began driving his 2002 Dodge Neon to look for her. He said he was driving east on Scenic Highway looking for her when he struck something in the road. The sheriff’s office said Polen claimed he believed it to be an animal, but when he turned around, saw a person lying in the road, and then believed it to be his girlfriend.

Rather than check on her, deputies said Polen drove back to the bar to wait on police to arrive, then walked back to the scene to see if it was Hershberger.

Deputies concluded that Polen was impaired by alcohol, and was transported to the Polk County Jail. He is charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, DUI manslaughter, and driving with no license.

The crash remains under investigation.

In 2018, Hershberger was arrested

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