NewsPolk County


WATCH: Driver crashes Ford Mustang through store in downtown Haines City

Posted at 2:09 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 18:56:55-04

Shocking video shows a vehicle crashing through the storefront of a downtown Haines City business Monday.

The driver, 19-year-old Cesar Mendoza Tapia Jr. of Lake Hamilton, was in the WB lane of Hinson Ave. just after 5 p.m. in a 2005 Ford Mustang when he reportedly lost control and crashed into the south window of Rent King located at 500 E. Hinson Ave.

"It's like watching a movie. If he was a stunt driver he'd be making big money," said said store manager Thomas Lewis.

Thomas Lewis, a manager at Rent King, said he was inside the store when it happened. He rushed over along with employees to check on the driver.

"We just seen a red flash come inside the building. We didn't know. We just ran straight up here and had our camera phones out," said Lewis.

Haines City Police said Tapia was operating the vehicle in a reckless manner and at a speed well above the posted 30 miles per hour limit.

Fortunately, nobody was injured. The business owner estimated the damage to exceed $25,000.

Security footage showed the Mustang missed a person walking on the sidewalk by just seconds.

"When I watched the security video, I see there was a guy walking down the sidewalk and he probably missed it by 10 seconds," said Lewis.

Tapia did not have a valid Florida driver's license and was charged with reckless driving and driving without a license.

"This is an area that usually has a heavy pedestrian presence and we're so thankful that no one was hurt," Police Chief Jim Elensky said. "Mr. Tapia was taken to jail, but this could have been much, much worse. We hope this serves as a lesson to him and anyone else who thinks it's OK to drive without a license or at high rates of speed."

Code compliance determined that the building was structurally sound.