POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – New details are surfacing one day after the arrest of a man accused in a Polk County hit-and-run crash that injured a deputy and killed a woman.
On Thursday investigators charged 71-year-old Charles Lewis, of Lake Wales, with leaving the scene of a traffic crash causing death and leaving the scene of a crash causing serious injury.
The crash happened early Saturday morning on State Road 60 in the Lake Wales area. A vehicle struck a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy sheriff and a citizen in the grass median. Deputy Adam Pennell was injured; Jessica Enchautegui-Otero died at the hospital because of her injuries.
On Friday afternoon Lewis stood before a judge on those charges. The judge set his bond at $101,000, with conditions and GPS monitoring.
Court documents show Lewis admitted to investigators he knew he was involved in the hit and run before he was arrested, but did not come forward.
“He told them he knew he hit something but didn’t know what he hit. He expressed remorse at killing Jessica Enchautegui-Otero and injuring Polk County Deputy Adam Pennell,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “It’s a little late for that.”
Jessica’s mother spoke about the arrest Friday, saying she was happy to finally have closure but had more questions and anger. “How could he not know? How could he not see?” she asked. “He said first he didn’t know he had hit anybody. But then he confessed that he did know he hit something, but he didn’t know what it was. Come on. Even if it was just a trashcan, stop and see, it was human lives.”
Investigators said Lewis confessed to the incident. He told Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies he was at a party in Indian Lake Estates and drank beers before driving home. “I am shocked and saddened. He’s a regular. He comes in a couple times a week. We all liked him. He’s a good guy,” said Lynn Robarts, manager at The Coop.
Robarts acknowledged Lewis was at the bar drinking that night but was shocked to hear what happened.
“When the two detectives coming here yesterday and showed me his picture and said that is who they arrested, I was shocked. Shocked. Because he is. I would’ve never guessed it because I’ve never seen him drunk,” she said.
The arrest was made in the case thanks to an anonymous Heartland Crime Stoppers tip. The investigation is ongoing. If investigators can prove impairment was a factor, additional charges will be added.
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