LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County Sheriff’s Office Deputy seriously injured in a hit-and-run crash on October 29th made his first public comments to the media this afternoon.
Adam Pennell was hit by a truck after he stopped to help Jessica Enchautegui-Otero who broke down on the side of the road. Enchautegui-Otero was killed.
Charles “Charlie” Lewis, 71, of 2853 Mar Lisa Cove Road, Lake Wales was later arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a traffic crash causing serious bodily injury, and leaving the scene of a traffic crash causing death, both first degree felonies.
Deputy Pennell and his wife, Christin, attended a Spaghetti Fundraiser at the Il Forno Italian Restaurant.
“It feels great,” Deputy Pennell told News Channel 8. “It feels great to be here getting strong again.”
“It’s hard to explain how it’s changed my life. Obviously I’ll have to live with my injuries the rest of my life but spiritually, I’ve gotten stronger and emotionally and my relationship with my wife and family have gotten better.”
Pennell’s wife is also a deputy for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and said even though the couple was married for only seven months before the crash, she married a man stronger than she knew.
“He’s got an internal fight that is indescribable,” Cristin said. “It’s just unbelievable. I see him push himself every day to try and go that extra mile.”
“He wants to get back to work. He wants to overcome this.”
His supporters have stood by him since the beginning, especially that day he left the hospital, surrounded by crowds.
On Monday night, more support from dozens of law enforcement officers and their families in Lakeland for a spaghetti fundraiser. At the end of the night, they raised more than $6,500.
“The last thing I want him to do is worry about money,” said Nick Marolda of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association. “I want him to heal up and he’s got a long road ahead of him.”
Sheriff Grady Judd saw Pennell the morning of the accident and is still in shock how far he has come.
“To see him up walking this soon is a Christmas miracle,” Sheriff Judd told News Channel 8.
As for the man who hit him, Pennell says he forgives him, but it happens on a daily basis.
WFLA.com 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.