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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Aug 3, 2023

Mother and son killed in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday in Lakeland

Media Contact: Alicia Manautou, PIO

A single-vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon, August 2, 2023 in Lakeland resulted in theTom Costine Rd Crash deaths of a mother and her 9-year-old son. 

Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched at about 4:30 pm, along with Polk County Fire Rescue to Tom Costine Road west of Beverly Hills Road. Upon arrival, emergency responders located 43-year-old Tera Kita and 9-year-old Brandon Arcadipane, both from Lakeland, deceased at the scene. 

According to the investigation so far Ms. Kita was driving a gold 2000 Chevrolet S10 Blazer northbound. As she began to take the right-hand curve, the rear wheels of the Blazer lost traction and the SUV began to slide. The SUV then exited the road on the south shoulder where it rolled upside down into a water-filled ditch.

“This is devastating - a family has lost a mother and a son, and our hearts break for them.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Heavy rain was reported in the area at the time of the crash. The road was closed for approximately 4 hours during the investigation, which remains on-going.