LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County deputies need help finding the driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash early Saturday morning. On Monday the Polk County Sheriff announced the reward has been increased to $10,000 for information that would lead to the driver’s arrest.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he hopes the reward entices someone who may be scared to come forward and do the right thing.
“Somebody in the community knows you [the driver], knows about your vehicle, and if they call us, they make a make a whole lot of money,” Judd said.
The crash happened on State Road 60 in the Lake Wales area involving a vehicle that struck a PCSO Deputy Sheriff and a citizen in the grass median.
At 12:40 a.m. Saturday, Deputy Adam Pennell, 25, was en route to a call when he saw a woman standing in the grass median of SR 60. Officials say Deputy Pennell stopped his patrol car in the inside lane of SR 60, activated his emergency lights, and got out of the car to talk to Jessica Enchautegui-Otero. He learned she had struck a tree and had injuries from the crash – the vehicle was off the roadway against the tree, deputies say, and she had walked out onto SR 60 to flag someone down for help.
Deputy Pennell called for EMS to respond to the scene to treat her, when a vehicle heading westbound entered the median and struck them both, and then fled the scene.
“The person runs through the median, runs over them and then flees the scene. You’re a coward. That’s what you are. But you’re going to be a coward wearing orange sooner or later,” Sheriff Judd said.
The sheriff’s office does not have any information about the suspect vehicle and deputies are hopeful someone will have information about this as the vehicle will have front-end damage.
Jessica Enchautegui-Otero died at the hospital.
Her father, Reinaldo Enchaultegui, said she was a sweet, hardworking girl.
“She was hard working. Working for her kids,” he said. “This is the second one I’ve lost this month. My son passed away the second of this month, now my daughter in the same month. Too much for me.”
Jessica’s son, Kenneth Pazanski said he just didn’t know why this had to happen.
“She took care of us, she supported us, she gave us clothes, she put a roof over our head, and she was just an awesome mother,” he described her.
Deputy Pennell has a broken pelvis and other broken bones but should recover. He is at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, with a long recovery ahead of him.
The following statement is from Deputy Sheriff Adam Pennell’s wife, Christin:
Our prayers are with the family of Jessica Enchautegui-Otero, and we remain hopeful that with the public’s help we will find the person responsible for killing her and severely injuring Adam. We appreciate everyone’s support while Adam faces upcoming surgery for his injuries, and we ask for your privacy and your prayers. More than anything we hope the suspect is found. Please join us in keeping Jessica’s family and loved ones in your prayers during this extremely difficult time.
Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this crash. Heartland Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477) or www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.