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'She had no chance:' Former basketball standout killed by accused drunk driver in pest control truck on US 301

Posted at 10:47 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 23:20:57-05

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. — A former Pinellas County basketball standout was killed by a drunk driver, authorities say, Thursday on her way home from work.

Lauren Lee's family is speaking out a day after their loved one lost her life, hoping people who drink think twice before getting behind the wheel.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Jonathan Valdes was driving a pest control truck north on U.S. 301 when he swerved off the road, then over-corrected and ultimately crossed into the southbound lane. He slammed into Lee's car, killing the 30-year-old.

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"You know this guy driving a company truck, almost during business hours and he was drunk and hitting other cars along the way," said Glenn Lee, Lauren's brother.

A crash report states Valdes was combative with troopers and refused a field sobriety test on scene. He's now charged with D.U.I. Manslaughter and D.U.I. Property Damage.

"He was in a moving killing machine," said Lee. "She had no chance. Even if she avoided, with the size of that truck."

Lee tells ABC Action News, his sister played basketball at St. Leo University and was currently working as a prison guard in Pasco County.

Lee says his sister's death should serve as a painful reminder to always drive responsibly.

"My sister is going to have to be buried by her parents, her grandparents," said Lee. "Great aunts and great uncles should never have to bury a grand baby."

ABC Action News reached out to Megascapes Landscape and Maintenance, of Dade City, to find out more information about Valdes' work history. A company representative said they are not commenting.