Road rage ends with crash into Polk building; driver killed

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A car crashed into a building south of Lakeland this morning after what appears to be a road rage incident, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said, and the driver of one of the vehicles involved was killed.

Deputies responded to the scene of the crash around 11:15 a.m. at a building on U.S. Highway 98 at Hancock Avenue in the Highlands City area south of Lakeland. 

A black Acura wound up hitting a business there after a crash with a silver Dodge pickup truck. The Acura's driver, Brondon Manning, 22, suffered minor injuries, but the driver of the truck is dead.  Sheriff Grady Judd said Daniel Bagwell, 27, was impaled through the chest by a piece of plastic fence.

Investigators were still combing through the wreckage in the yard this afternoon. Both vehicles appeared to have suffered significant damage.

"We've got a 27-year-old man today who should not be dead. But he's dead because of reckless driving by one or both of these vehicles," Judd stated.

No one inside the business was injured; it is currently vacant.

It all started a few blocks north of the crash scene, investigators believe.  Deputies say the two southbound vehicles "had aggressive interactions," swerving and cutting each other off along U.S. 98, until they collided at Cypress Avenue.  Both veered off the road into the building.

According to Judd, the two men did not know each other and there did not appear to be any verbal exchange preceding the altercation. It was not immediately clear which, if either, driver was at fault.

The sheriff said Manning was cooperating with investigators, but detectives are still asking witnesses to come forward.

Meanwhile, Judd used the opportunity to remind motorists to avoid letting their emotions get the best of them.

"If someone tries to engage you in a road rage, just slow down, back off the speedometer, let 'em go. Because if you engage in conflict, you, too could end up dead," the sheriff added.