Man Charged With Vehicular Homicide In Death Of Lakeland Woman

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Lakeland, Florida – On December 5, 2016 deputies with Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Nicholas Devon McBride 23, of Lakeland, for Vehicular Homicide. The arrest comes as a result of an accident that occurred on June 3, 2016 in which Tamara Delong 50, of Lakeland, was critically injured and eventually succumb to her injuries 73 days later.

On June 3, 2016 at approximately 2:55pm a gray colored Crown Victoria driven by McBride was traveling northbound in the inside lane on North Socrum Loop Road in the 6400 block. A light green Toyota Avalon driven by Delong was traveling Southbound in the inside lane on North Socrum Loop Road in the 6400 Block. According to reports the Ford allegedly left it’s lane and crossed through a turn lane into the southbound lanes of Socrum Loop Road and struck the Avalon in a nearly head on collision. Delong was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where she eventually succumbed to her injuries 73 days later.

During the coarse of the investigation multiple witnesses advised they saw McBride’s vehicle cross multiple lanes into the path of Delongs Toyota. Additional witnesses reportedly told Lakeland Police that the Ford that McBride allegedly was driving was weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. According to reports a Lakeland Police Officer who arrived on scene advised crash investigators that he had stopped McBride about 90 minutes earlier for speeding. A review of records show that McBride was ticketed for going 48 mph in a 30 mph speed zone. A review by investigators did show a ticket issued to McBride at 1:29pm while he was driving on Old Combee Road in Lakeland. According to the arrest affidavit a Traffic Crash Reconstructionist M. Catalano, of the Lakeland Police Department, determined that the defendant’s vehicle allegedly was traveling at a calculated speed of 72.33 miles per hour, in a posted 45 miles per hour zone. The posted speed in the area of Socumb Loop Road was 45 mph.

Lakeland Police determined that based on witness statements, the roadway evidence, and reconstruction, there is sufficient evidentiary information to believe that McBride was operating the vehicle recklessly. LPD charged McBride of Vehicular Homicide, a felony in the second degree.

McBride was on probation for attempted burglary at the time of his arrest.

According to her obituary:

Delong was was born in Lakeland, Florida on October 7, 1965. She grew up in Lake City Florida and moved back to Lakeland to attend Florida Southern College, where she graduated from in 1985 with a BA in recreation. She worked for Lakeland Parks and Recreation until 1990, when she became an elementary school teacher for Polk County School Board. She taught at Padgett Elementary for 7 years and was named the school’s Teacher of The Year in 1993, as well as Polk County Teacher of The Year runner up that same year.

Delong spent 27 years teaching young people of all grade levels and tutoring students who were challenged, but she felt her biggest calling in life was to be a stay at home mom and to home school her four children. She has spent the last 15 years teaching her own children from elementary through college age studies. She gained a reputation as a teacher who cared about each of her students and helped them overcome obstacles in their paths. She was active in her church at Crestview Baptist. She was well-known in the home school community as a resource for curriculum and as an evaluator for other students. She will be remembered as a kind hearted woman who sincerely cared and encouraged others by listening and offering her support. Her friends knew they could always come to her for love and advice.

Delong was married and a mother of four children.