Two teenagers killed in Polk County crash

Jorge Lara and Melanie Lara, courtesy Polk County School District

POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after two teenagers were killed Friday morning on their way to Frostproof High School.

Deputies say a Jeep Liberty being driven by 18-year-old Jorge Lara was turning onto US Hwy 27 heading towards Frostproof High School with his sister, 15-year-old Melanie Lara, as a passenger in the Jeep. She is also a student at Frostproof High.

As the Jeep began crossing the southbound lanes, it was struck by a white Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck which was occupied by three adult males from Bartow and Winter Haven: Jose Vazquez-Rivera, 23, of Bartow, the driver, Francisco Herrera, 23, and Luis Lazos-Gomez, 32, the passengers, both from Wahneta.

Both teens were killed. The three men in the truck have been transported to area hospitals and are expected to survive.

Polk deputies said all the victims were wearing seatbelts and the airbags deployed. There is also no indication at this time that excessive speed, impairment, or distraction on anyone’s part is a factor, according to PCSO.frostproof2

Grief counselors are going to be at the Frostproof High School Friday.

The crash is still under investigation.

US Hwy 27 southbound was closed for about five hours. Traffic was re-routed via Otto Polk Road.

High School principal Kyle Windham released the following statement:

We are heartbroken at the tragic news that two of our Frostproof Middle-Senior High students, Jorge and Melanie Lara, were fatally injured in a crash this morning.

These two students were the epitome of character, honesty, and integrity that we hope all of our students strive to be. They were well-behaved and were a joy to have as students. They were polite, caring and very bright. The news of their passing has been devastating for our school community as well as all who knew them.

They will be greatly missed by their school family as well as all of those who love them. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family members.

A crisis team is available on campus today for any students or staff members who are in need of counseling. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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