Polk county police officials have arrested a man, Ryan Tallent, 24, of Plant City, Florida, on DUI manslaughter charges after he crashed into a Lakeland home on Thursday and killed a 76-year-old woman, Janice Folds, according to the Ledger.
On the morning of October 13, Janice and her husband Wyatt – who is a former pastor in the area – were at their home at 5404 Orange Valley Drive, preparing to head to an early bible study.
It was reported that the married couple of 53 years were in their kitchen, brewing coffee. For unknown reasons, Janice walked into her bedroom while her Wyatt remained in the kitchen and moments later, a “2011 Chevrolet Silverado slammed into the front guest bedroom of the Lakeland home, ran through the dining room and came to rest in the kitchen.”
Investigators say Tallent was “speeding down Fitzgerald Road” when he suddenly lost control and careened into the couple’s home.
Janice died at the scene.
Neighbors who heard the crash rushed out of their homes and saw the pickup truck inside of Janice and Wyatt’s home.
Witnesses say the driver, who appeared drunk at the scene, tried to leave the scene of the accident before police arrived but bystanders wouldn’t allow him to leave.
A neighbor, Mike Lanham, 53, said, “He said he had family nearby and tried to walk away. I said, ‘You’re not going anywhere,’ so he kind of chilled a little bit. Then the police came. It’s just horrible.”
“They [the Folds] are really good people. He always waved and tooted his horn every day to say goodbye to his wife.”
After emergency responders arrived at the scene, they asked Tallent to take a blood sobriety test but when he refused, Donna Wood – who is the sheriff’s spokesperson – stated that they “obtained a judge’s order to take a blood sample.”
Wood went on to say that Tallent sustained minor injuries during the fatal crash and was later transported to Polk County Jail.
“They were doing what all of us did this morning, just living the American lifestyle,” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. “I’m angry beyond words. As adults, we’re supposed to be responsible.'”
“With his recklessness, changed the life of this beautiful family forever and through the criminal justice system, we plan to change Tallent’s life.”
“You can be sure that we will charge our suspect with everything that the law allows,” added Grady.
In a Facebook post, Jennifer Dyan Bechtol Paul wrote, “This is the result of drinking and driving. People’s lives were changed forever in an instant this morning. Don’t be selfish, take responsibility for your actions. Call an Uber, call a friend, and if you can’t handle it don’t drink.”
“Don’t be the person to separate a husband and wife married 53 years. Don’t be the person to take away a Mom, a Grandma, a friend. My prayers are with everyone who experienced this tragedy this morning.”
“I pray that the Lord will wrap his arms around you and comfort you in your time of darkness,” Paul added.
Sheryl Lynn White, who has known Tallent and his family for many years, wrote, “Wow is all I can say at the moment. This hit too close to home for me today. We all make mistakes; however, mistakes like this can be prevented! Everyone close to me read this and don’t be under the influence of anything.”
“You can always find someone to call or just stay where you’re at. This is not the answer nor worth it. Again, praying for all involved.”
The alleged drunk driver remains in the county jail and made his first court appearance Friday.
[Featured Image By Ryan Tallent/Facebook]