The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fatal two-vehicle crash that happened Wednesday afternoon, March 10, 2021, just north of the city of Eagle Lake.
The crash occurred on State Road 540 at the intersection with Old Eagle Lake-Winter Haven Road at about 3:19 PM.
Upon the arrival of deputies and Polk County Fire Rescue, 72-year-old Gary Tapley of Winter Haven was found deceased in the roadway. Mr. Tapley was the operator of a black 2014 Yamaha motorcycle.
The other vehicle involved was a silver 2020 Kia Forte, driven by 58-year-old Saskia Colin of Tampa. Ms. Colin told detectives that she is an Uber driver, and the passenger who was occupying her back seat was a customer.
Both Ms. Colin and her passenger were transported to Winter Haven Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
According to the preliminary investigation, Mr. Tapley was westbound on SR 540 while Ms. Colin was northbound on Old Eagle Lake-Winter Haven Road. Ms. Colin stopped at the intersection for a stop sign, then proceeded across the eastbound lanes of SR 540 into the median break where she stopped again. She then began crossing the westbound lanes of SR 540, which put her vehicle in the path of Mr. Tapley, who was in the inside lane.
Mr. Tapley’s motorcycle slammed into the rear passenger side door of the Kia, causing him to be ejected from the motorcycle.
Ms. Colin and her passenger were wearing seatbelts, and Mr. Tapley was wearing a helmet.
The westbound lanes of SR 540 remained closed for about three hours during the investigation, which remains ongoing.