LAKE WALES (FOX 13)
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is searching for the driver who fatally struck a citizen and injured a deputy in a hit-and-run early Saturday morning.
The incident happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. on State Road 60 between Tiger Lake and Sam Keen roads.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Deputy Adam Pennell, 25, stopped his cruiser after he spotted a woman standing in the median of State Road 60. Pennell parked in the inside lane and had his emergency lights on.
The deputy learned that the woman, identified as 33-year-old Jessica Enchautegui-Otero, had just crashed her car into a tree nearby and needed help.
Enchautegui-Otero had been injured when her car crashed into the ditch next to the roadway.
"Her windshield was smashed and her car landed on the passenger's side. She actually crawled out through the smashed windshield and went over to the median to try and flag someone down for help," explained Polk County Sheriff's Spokesperson Carrie Horstman. "He immediately called EMS and the last transmission that he had with dispatch was at 12:38."
Seven minutes later, emergency responders arrived at a horrifying scene. Both the deputy and Enchautegui-Otero lay severely injured in the grass. They'd been hit by an oncoming vehicle that drove onto the median. The vehicle then fled the scene.
Enchautegui-Otero was pronounced deceased at Lake Wales Medical Center. Deputy Pennell suffered serious injuries, including multiple broken bones. He's being treated at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and will need several surgeries but is expected to survive.
The Sheriff's Office is actively searching for the hit-and-run vehicle, which will have front-end damage.
Earlier this month a tip helped the Polk County detectives track down and arrest the driver who caused another deadly hit and run crash. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is hopeful the public will help find the driver who hit Deputy Pennell and killed the woman he was trying to help.
"We are confident that with the community's help, we will identify and arrest the coward who ran over a deputy and a young woman and left them both for dead, and then fled the scene. We will work day and night until this case is solved. And to the coward who did this - we advise you to turn yourself in, sooner rather than later."
Anyone with information about the crash should call the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200.