Crime & Courts
Lake Wales man struck in apparent suicide
A Lake Wales man in was struck by a semi-truck Sunday afternoon in an apparent suicide on Highway 27 near Frostproof, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. About 1:30 p.m., Dennis Joseph O’Brien, 3924 Scenic Hwy., Apt. 2, parked his Chevrolet pickup truck on the right shoulder of southbound U.S. Highway 27, just south of Bell Road. He then walked into the roadway in the path of a semi driven by Alexy Rodriguez, 40, of Miami. Rodriguez attempted to avoid hitting O’Brien, but was unable to evade the collision. O’Brien was taken to Florida Heartland Hospital in Sebring where he was pronounced dead. Friends reported to the sheriff’s office, in a separate investigation, that O’Brien had posted suicidal-like remarks on his Facebook page. A deputy went to his home and found the door to the residence open. Once inside the empty home, a handwritten note and the open Facebook page was found on O’Brien’s desktop computer.The note and the page indicated O’Brien had plans to harm himself, deputies said. Although the investigation is ongoing, deputies believe O’Brien walked in front of the truck on purpose.