Frostproof man arrested for DUI months after fiery fatal crash: ‘I messed up’

A suspected drunk driver has been arrested approximately seven months after a fiery crash killed his passenger. 

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, on July 2, 2023, Robert Castillo Jr. was driving a 2005 black Nissan southbound on US 27 near George Street in Frostproof around 2:30 p.m. when he lost control of his car.

Investigators say the Nissan began to spin and slide. Eventually, it crossed the northbound lanes, threw Castillo and his passenger, Donnie Joe Lee, from the car, rolled down an embankment, landed on top of Lee, and caught fire. 

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According to a witness who grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put the flames out, Castillo said, "Man, you guys are my angels," as several people dragged him away from the burning car. 

A fatal single-vehicle crash happened near Sun Ray on Sunday Afternoon.

A Polk County Sheriff's Office truck at scene of fatal crash on July 2, 2023. Image is courtesy of PCSO. 

The witness added that Castillo told him, "Man, I messed up. I have been drinking". 

Castillo, according to the witness, was going too fast. Investigators estimate Castillo was going between 90–110 miles an hour moments before the crash occurred. 

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A witness says Castillo also asked where his buddy Joe was located.   

Investigators say another witness told them that Castillo’s speech was slurred, and he kept saying he should not have been driving. 

Courtesy: Polk County Sheriff's Office

Castillo was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Care after the crash and, according to PCSO, he showed signs of impairment while at the facility. 

Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies say Castillo agreed to have his blood drawn and an FDLE lab report showed that he had a blood alcohol level of .164 and .165, which is twice the legal limit. The test also showed he had cannabis in his system. 

Lee’s mother told detectives that he said he loved her before he got into Castillo’s passenger seat around 2 p.m. and said they would be back later. 

Castillo has been charged with DUI manslaughter.