UPDATE to traffic crash that occurred early Sunday morning, during which the 17-year-old driver, Kenneth Haney Jr. died – the passenger of the car, 18-year-old Chad Hall, has been declared deceased.
Polk County Sheriffs Office Press Release
Around 4:00 am on Sunday, Dec 16, 2018, Polk County Fire Rescue & PCSO responded to a vehicle versus semi crash at Hwy 37 and SR 640 in Mulberry. Upon their arrival, the driver of a black Honda Civic, 17 year old Kenneth Haney of Bradley, was deceased at the scene and his passenger, 18 year old Chad Hall of Mulberry, was critically injured & transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. The semi-truck driver, 39 year old William Benavidez of Lakeland, was not injured.
Preliminary investigation suggests Kenneth Haney was traveling south on Hwy 37 and failed to stop, and ran into the back of a semi-truck that was stopped at the red light at Hwy 37 and CR 640.
The crash caused massive fontal damage and interior intrusion into the Honda. There were no signs of braking by Haney prior to impacting the semi-truck.
At this time, neither impairment nor speed are thought to be factors in the crash, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Both Haney and Hall were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash and frontal and side airbags deployed.
Haney was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy will be performed.
Hall was taken to LRHMC and underwent emergency surgery for his injuries.
Hwy 37 South was closed for approximately 5 hours and FDOT routed traffic around the crash during the investigation.