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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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2 dead, 1 critical after semitrailer broadsides van in Polk

Two people are dead and another is in critical condition after the van they were in ran a stop sign and was broadsided by a semitrailer in Polk County, deputies said. Jonathan Andrew Bretch, 31, and Renee Dale Fowler, 35, died at the scene. Joel Matthew Grimes, 35, was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition, Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies said. Bretch was driving a 1998 Chevrolet Astro van on Lake Wales Road South about 6 a.m. and failed to stop at a stop sign at State Road 60, deputies said. A 1994 Freightliner semitrailer, driven by Clifford Lamont Smith, 60, of Lakeland, was traveling east on State Road 60 and struck the driver's side of the van, deputies said.
The van rotated and Fowler and Grimes were ejected, deputies said. None of the van's occupants was wearing a seat belt, deputies said. Smith jack-knifed in an attempt to avoid the collision and traveled across the median and into the westbound travel lanes, deputies said. The semi continued north and hit a fence and tree, deputies said. Smith was treated for minor injuries at Bartow Regional Medical Center and released. State Road 60 was shut down for several hours while deputies investigated the crash.
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