Suspect in deadly hit-and-run accident in Polk arrested

Victim's family reacts to admission, arrest
Posted at 11:11 PM, Nov 03, 2016

A 71-year-old Lake Wales man was arrested, Thursday, accused of a deadly hit-and-run crash that killed a mother and injured a Polk County Sheriff's Deputy.

Sheriff Grady Judd said Deputy Adam Pennell stopped to help Jessica Enchautegui, early Saturday morning, after she crashed into a tree. As Deputy Pennell and Enchautegui were waiting for an ambulance in the median they were hit; the driver took off. Enchautegui, who is a mother, did not survive.

MORE: Hit-and-run victim left behind two children

Deputy Pennell suffered serious injuries. Sheriff Judd said he broke his arms, ribs, and crushed his pelvis. He underwent surgery this week. According to Sheriff Judd, his deputy remains in trauma intensive care and his recovery could take 6 months to a year.

Five days after the deadly crash, a Crime Stoppers tip, with information about a blue Ford Pickup truck, led deputies to Lake Wales. On Thursday, deputies pulled over Charles Lewis, 71, near his home along Mar Lisa Cove Road off Camp Mack Road.

"I was hurt. (I'm) shocked. (I) couldn't believe it. Charlie is….he's not really somebody that would hurt somebody and then leave the area," one his neighbors, Dusty Thompson, said.

Sheriff Judd said Lewis admitted he was at a party, had beers in his system, and that he did not know what he hit.

"Later on in the confession, he said please tell them I'm sorry. That's a little too late," Sheriff Judd said.

Lewis told detectives he was at a party at The Coop Bar. There is surveillance video of him drinking. We are working to obtain that video. 

Enchautegui's family expressed relief tonight because someone was arrested for the crime.

"It's not going to bring Jessica back, but it's justice being done," Lucy Dela Cruz, her cousin, said.

Dela Cruz said their family has so many questions they want answered. They are praying for Deputy Pennell to recover.

"Believe me we're praying for him (and) that he pulls through. We are so grateful that Jessica wasn't alone," Dela Cruz said.

The family said the past few days have been tough. Some moments they are crying and other moments they are laughing, thinking about memories.

"She was a loving mother and she was….Jessica was Jessica. She was a ray of sunshine," Dela Cruz said.

Sheriff Judd said their agency continues to investigate this case. They urge people to come forward, who know anything about this case.

Lewis is charged with leaving the scene of a traffic crash causing death and leaving the scene of a traffic crash causing serious bodily injury. Authorities said Lewis could face additional charges, if they can prove he was impaired that morning.