The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a four-vehicle crash that occurred during the evening hours of Friday, October 23, 2020, on State Road 60 in Lake Wales, during which four people suffered fatal injuries. Preliminary information is as follows:
The crash occurred around 10:30 p.m. on SR 60 approximately one mile east of County Road 630 near Indian Lake Estates. That stretch of roadway is straight, running east to west through a rural area, with a dashed and solid yellow line indicating a no passing zone for eastbound traffic, and passing allowed for westbound traffic. The speed limit along that stretch of roadway is 55 MPH.
The vehicles, drivers involved, passengers, and their conditions are:
A 2005 gray Ford F-150 being driven by 83-year-old Phillip Penatello of Hobe Sound, FL; sole occupant of his truck; airlifted to LRHMC, where he succumbed to his injuries.
A 2013 white Nissan Frontier, being driven by 67-year-old Deborah Everett of Indian Lake Estates; sole occupant of her truck; minor injuries, no medical treatment necessary.
A 2018 blue Toyota Corolla, being driven by 19-year-old Jaelin Hunt of Lakeland; sole occupant of her car; minor injuries, no medical treatment necessary.
A gray 2008 Nissan Altima being driven by 42-year-old Wagner Salvador of Palm Beach, FL; numerous broken bones, airlifted to Osceola Regional Medical Center, in stable condition.
45-year-old Veruska Salvador (front seat); deceased on scene.
12-year-old Ashley Salvador (back seat driver’s side); transported to Lake Wales Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.
11-year-old Albert Salvador (back seat passenger’s side); deceased on scene.
Evidence and interviews indicate that Penatello was driving eastbound (in the no passing zone) in excess of the speed limit, when he went into the westbound lane to pass a vehicle. At that time, Everett and Hunt were traveling westbound. Penatello struck Everett’s vehicle, causing one of her tires to be separated and to roll until it struck Hunt’s car. Both of those vehicles that were hit by Penetello came to a rest and were not hit by any other cars.
Penatello continued heading east in the westbound lane and struck Salvador’s car nearly head-on, causing Salvador’s car to rotate and come to a stop in a drainage ditch on the north side of the roadway.
It does not appear Penatello was wearing a seatbelt. All of the occupants of Salvador’s car were wearing seatbelts.
The roadway in the area was closed for approximately six hours during the investigation. Due to the death of the suspected at-fault driver, no criminal charges are pending. The investigation is ongoing.