One dead in alcohol-related wrong way crash on Interstate 4 in Lakeland

Posted at 7:58 AM, Jan 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-14 11:43:15-05

UPDATE 8:58 a.m. | Travis Coats, driver of a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 involved in an alcohol-related wrong way traffic accident on eastbound Interstate 4 early Saturday, has been arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter, DUI property damage, DUI and driving the wrong direction.

Coats' vehicle was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-4 near Mile Marker 33 when it collided head-on into a 2016 Ford Fusion. The driver of the Ford, an unidentified 32-year-old St. Petersburg man, died at the scene.

A third motorist, whose 2014 Ford Fiesta collided into the Ram after the initial crash, suffered minor injuries.


UPDATE 7:57 a.m. | One person is dead after an alcohol-related, wrong-way three-vehicle crash on eastbound Interstate 4 near Mile Marker 33 in Lakeland.

The accident occurred shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday. The accident scene was cleared and eastbound I-4 lanes reopened about 8:15 a.m.

A 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 driven by Travis Wade Coats, 24, of Polk City, was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes west  the Carpenters Way Overpass, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

At the time, a 2016 Ford Fusion driven by an unidentified 32-year-old St. Petersburg man was headed eastbound on I-4. The Dodge Ram collided head on with the Ford Fusion. 

A third vehicle, a 2014 Ford Fiesta driven by Emily Jean Smart, 23, of Lakeland, also was traveling eastbound on I-4 and collided with the Dodge Ram in the eastbound lanes. 

The 32-year-old, St. Petersburg man suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene, the FHP report said. 

Coats and Smart both received minor injuries and were treated for their injuries at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. 

According to the FHP report, the accident was alcohol-related.

Charges are pending. 

ORIGINAL STORY | Eastbound Interstate 4 lanes in Lakeland remain closed following a fatal, alcohol-related, wrong-way crash on the interstate near Mile Marker 33, officials said. 

A tweet by Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Gaskins shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday stated: Polk: Fatal alcohol-involved wrong-way crash EB I-4 @ 33MM claims 1. EB lanes closed.

The incident was reported shortly after 3 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-4 at Mile Marker 33 in Lakeland, according to the Florida Highway Patrol website. 

No further information about the traffic accident has been released.

Tampa Bay Traffic is reporting traffic is being detoured onto the Polk Parkway Loop.


This is a developing story. Stay with for updates.