2 teens arrested for Lakeland Christmas crash that sent 9 to hospital

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two teens have been arrested for their involvement in a Christmas night wreck that sent nine people to the hospital.

Polk deputies say 18-year-old Alexis Madrigal and a 17-year-old boy were racing down Cherry Lane south of Lakeland when they both crashed into a pickup truck, and then a tree, at the intersection of Lunn Road.

The speed limit is 35 miles per hour in that area but arrest records obtained by 8 On Your Side show speeds of up to 103 miles per hour.

8 On Your Side is not naming the 17-year-old suspect as he is still a minor.

Both teens are charged with four counts each of reckless driving with serious bodily injury. Both had multiple passengers at the time of the crash.

More than a month later, one of the victims remains in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury.

“This is a textbook and horrific example of how senseless and dangerous street racing is,” said Sheriff Grady Judd in response to the arrests. “Some of these victims will live with these injuries for the rest of their lives, and one may never fully recover. Meanwhile, two teens are both being charged with four felonies. This is awful all around.”

The driver of the pickup, 41-year-old Gerald Nipper, was not at fault but deputies arrested him the night of the crash for suspected DUI.

Court documents show Nipper failed a field sobriety test and blew more than triple the legal limit on a breathalyzer.

Nipper didn’t cause the crash but Judd, who was on scene that night, said the following day Nipper is just as guilty.

“He’s drunk, so his reaction time is not what it could be,” he said. “Maybe he could have avoided the crash altogether, had he been sober. But instead, it was a huge mess.”

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