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During the evening hours of Saturday, April 1, 2023, 29-year-old Colten McMullen (DOB 8/25/93) of Lakeland was arrested on US Hwy 92 west of Auburndale after hitting two vehicles and a bicyclist, and attempting to flee. The bicyclist is deceased.
According to the affidavit, just after 10:00 p.m. the Auburndale Police Department responded to a traffic crash near the Walmart on US Hwy 92, where the at-fault driver (later positively identified as McMullen) had struck another vehicle and fled the scene.
While fleeing west down US 92 in his white Chevy Silverado, McMullen struck another vehicle within PCSO's jurisdiction approximately two miles down the road from the first crash. Deputies responded to investigate that crash and search for the fleeing suspect. The victims in the Dodge Journey SUV told deputies that after the Silverado struck the rear of their vehicle, it continued west and swerved right, partially off of the roadway, where it struck an adult male bicyclist. The suspect did not stop to render aid. First responders found the bicyclist, a 37-year-old Lakeland man, deceased from his injuries. Other witnesses in the area also reported the hit-and-run fatality.
After hitting the bicyclist, the Silverado continued until it became disabled, and McMullen stopped the truck approximately 1.5 miles west of Old Dixie Hwy. Deputies arrived and took him into custody. He showed several signs of impairment and told deputies that he had been drinking at the Apple Lounge on Recker Hwy that evening. He told deputies the truck is his and that he "wrecked" but that he wasn't sure how many times he wrecked. He was taken into custody and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, a first degree felony, and leaving the scene of a crash causing property damage, a misdemeanor.
Further charges are pending the toxicological results of his blood alcohol content. He is being held in the Polk County Jail on no bond until a first appearance hearing.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family who are certainly grieving the loss of their loved one, and our gratitude goes out to all of the witnesses who assisted us during this investigation. Thanks to their cooperation and a swift response from law enforcement, we were able to take McMullen into custody before he could hurt anyone else." - Grady Judd, Sheriff