WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A Winter Haven dad who was riding with his student driver son and 7-year-old daughter was killed on Sunday in a head-on crash, the Polk County Sheriff's Office says.
Deputies say 22-year-old Nannette Cruz Garcia was traveling eastbound on Cypress Gardens Boulevard when she crossed a raised median and struck the family, who was traveling westbound, head-on. It happened around 11:58 a.m.
Sandeep Kumar Beri, 57, was in the front passenger seat as his 15-year-old son Nick Beri drove. His 7-year-old daughter Sophia Beri was in the rear passenger seat.
"We don't know why Ms. Garcia crossed over the median and into the path of the Beri family. We will determine that during our investigation," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "I was at the scene this afternoon, this was just a devastating crash. It is a reminder for all of us to drive safely and remain aware of our surroundings while driving. Our sympathies and prayers go out to the Beri family for their loss."
Deputies say both vehicles left the roadway and came to a final rest in the culvert on the north side of the road.
Sandeep was taken to Lakeland Regional where he was pronounced dead. Sophia was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital, she sustained minor injuries. Nick was also taken to Lakeland Regional where he is listed as stable.
Garcia was taken to Lakeland Regional where she is being treated for serious injuries. She is in critical condition, deputies say.
According to the sheriff's office, Garcia was not wearing a seat belt, but they say Sandeep, Nick and Sophia were.
Cypress Gardens Boulevard was closed in both directions for several hours. It re-opened at 4:10 p.m.
Nick Beri has a learner's permit and was driving legally, the sheriff's office says.
The investigation is active, traffic homicide deputies say.