Passenger killed when truck hits downed tree in Lake Wales

A 22-year-old man is dead, and a 70-year-old man was injured, when their truck collided with a downed tree on a Lake Wales roadway Saturday morning. 

The Polk County Sheriff's office said Hosie Session, Jr., 70, of Lake Wales, was driving a 1996 Ford F-150 on Old Bartow Lake Wales Road around 6 a.m. when he hit the tree in the westbound lane. 

The impact was mainly on the passenger's side, where 22-year-old Tyler Watson, of Lake Wales, was riding.

Watson died before first responders arrived, PCSO said.

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It's unclear if Session saw the tree before impact. Deputies said there was no evidence of braking or swerving to avoid the tree. The area was dark at the time of the crash. Deputies said no streetlights are present in that part of the roadway.

Investigators also learned local residents had already reported branches down on the roadway. Sometime after crews cleaned up the roadway, the tree uprooted and fell.

Neither of the men were wearing seat belts. Investigators said Session did not appear impaired. He was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover. 

Members of the PCSO Agricultural Unit removed the tree from the roadway. A portion of Old Bartow Lake Wales Road was closed during the investigation for approximately 4 hours.