Pedestrian hit by truck in Lakeland during fatal crash, police say

A 23-year-old Lakeland man died at Lakeland Regional Health after being hit by a truck early Sunday morning, according to police.

Officials say officers responded to a traffic crash involving a black Dodge pickup truck and a pedestrian near the intersection of US 98 South (Bartow Road) and North Massachusetts Avenue around 5 a.m.

According to authorities, the Dodge that was being driven by 53-year-old James Booker from Lakeland, was headed northwest on US 98 South in the inside lane as 23-year-old Jose Baez Belnier was trying to cross US 98 South.

READ: 2 dead, 4 injured after crash on SR-56 in Pasco County: FHP

Officers say Belnier entered the path of the truck and was hit. Booker came to a controlled stop and stayed at the scene of the crash, according to the police department.

Officials say the Lakeland Police Department Patrol Units, Polk County Fire Rescue, and the Lakeland Fire Department all arrived on the scene to try to save Belnier.

Belnier was taken to the hospital, which is where he died, according to authorities.

Police say Booker was not injured.

The roadway was shut down for about two hours to process the scene for the ongoing investigation, according to officers.

Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to contact Traffic Crash Investigator Officer Travis Payne at