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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Auburndale teen walking to school struck by minivan, killed

A 17-year-old walking to school was struck by a minivan and killed Wednesday morning on a dark, unlit stretch of Old Dixie Highway in Auburndale, deputies said.

Enrique Hernandez had missed his school bus and was on his way to Tenoroc High when he was hit about 6:40 a.m., authorities said.

The teen was walking north in the northbound lane of Old Dixie Highway, north of U.S. 92, and the green 1999 Dodge Caravan was traveling in the same direction, deputies said.

The driver, 50-year-old Prakesh Patel, of Lakeland, took evasive maneuvers in an attempt to avoid hitting the teen but was unsuccessful, deputies said. Patel immediately stopped and rendered aid, deputies said.

The teen lived on McCampbell Road, just off U.S. 92, about a three-mile walk to the school on Saddle Creek Road, deputies said.

There are no streetlights or sidewalks along that stretch of the roadway and it was dark at the time of the crash, deputies said.

Impairment and speed by the driver do not appear to be a factor, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

The school year began Monday for Polk County schools.

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