On June 9, 2020 at approximately 11:32 a.m., the PCSO Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 call regarding a single vehicle crash involving a motorcycle on Demetree Drive north of Thomasville Circle, which is located within the Carlton Arms of South Lakeland Apartment Complex. Polk County Fire/Medics and deputies responded to render aid.
Upon arrival, deputies located the victim, 63-year-old Stephen Wheeler, who was the sole occupant of the motorcycle, lying in a grassy area on the east side of Demetree Drive with no pulse. Deputies began lifesaving measures by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation until Polk County Fire/Medics arrived on scene.
Polk County Fire/Medics took over lifesaving measures and continued to provide CPR to the victim who was transported to Lakeland Regional Health. The victim underwent surgery and the medical staff was able to stabilize him, but on June 11, 2020, PCSO was notified that the victim succumbed to his injuries.
Preliminary investigation suggests, the Harley Davidson motorcycle was parked in a garage that is located at Thomasville Circle/Demetree Drive. The open bay of the garage where it was parked faces toward the northeast. As Wheeler exited the garage area, he traveled in a northeasterly direction across Thomasville Circle and onto Demetree Drive at a high rate of speed then impacted a raised concrete curb that is located on the east side of Demetree Drive. After initial impact, the motorcycle traveled over the raised concrete curb and continued in a northeasterly direction down a steep embankment, then began to overturn in a clockwise rotation causing the Wheeler to be ejected from the seat. After ejection, his head impacted a metal fence that was at the bottom of the embankment. He was not wearing a helmet. The causation for this crash, including distraction and possible medical problems, will further be investigated. Demetree Drive in the area of the crash was closed for approximately three hours. The victim’s wife was interviewed and she informed deputies that Wheeler recently purchased the motorcycle, which was delivered to their residence on June 4th. Before he left, he informed his wife that he was going to ride it around the apartment complex. Wheeler’s wife indicated the victim has not operated a motorcycle in several years.