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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 PIOs@polksheriff.org.
The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.
The Traffic Homicide unit from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two related crashes that occurred Monday morning, September 11, 2023 east of Lake Wales; one of the crashes was a fatal hit & run, and the suspect fled on foot.
At about 6:11am, a two-vehicle crash occurred in the intersection of State Road 60 and County Road 630 involving a white 2020 Chevrolet Traverse--driven by a 15-year old from Lake Wales, and a red 2012 Dodge pickup truck—driven by 50-year old Dan Pitisci of Indian Lake Estates.
The 15-year old driver was airlifted to a hospital with minor injuries; his 12-year old passenger was also airlifted with an injury to her head, and she was said to be in critical condition.
Mr. Pitisci was transported by ambulance to the hospital, and was treated and released.
The preliminary investigation shows that the westbound Chevrolet Traverse turned left to head south on CR 630, and crossed into the path of the Dodge pickup which was eastbound.
Following the first crash, a 34-year old Melbourne, Florida man parked his vehicle to assist the injured victims. At that time, a white 2012 Honda Odyssey van traveling east on SR 60 struck the Dodge pickup truck and caused it to rotate and hit the Good Samaritan, causing blunt force trauma to the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The occupant(s) of the Honda Odyssey immediately fled on foot.
A search for the suspect(s) by PCSO deputies, K-9 unit, and Aviation has so far been unsuccessful, but remains ongoing.
A check of the Honda Odyssey revealed that a salvage title was obtained for it in Arizona back in 2022, and it was serviced twice this year, once in Arizona, and also in New Mexico.
“We saw two completely different kinds of people on this crash—a brave, concerned man immediately trying to render aid to injured strangers, and a selfish coward who ran away. We’re going to do everything we can to find the person responsible, but we could use any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem. We need to know who that white 2012 Honda Odyssey belongs to, or who drove it. You can call our Traffic Homicide detectives at 863-668-3100, or you can call anonymously to Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS and even be eligible for a $5,000 reward if your information leads to an arrest.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff.