A Tampa woman was killed and an officer was injured early Saturday morning after being hit by a vehicle while standing in a grass median on State Road 60, according to the Tampa Bay.
At around 12:35 a.m., 33-year-old Jessica Enchautegui-Otero’s “gray 2009 Toyota Matrix had driven off eastbound State Road 60 and struck a tree just east of Sam Keen Road and west of Tiger Lake Road.”
Enchautegui-Otero suffered a head injury during the crash but managed to walk back to the highway for help after crawling through a broken window.
A Polk County sheriff’s deputy, Adam Pennell, 25, was able to assist the mother of two sons – 16-year-old Xavier and 11-year-old Kenneth – and called for paramedics to treat her.
However, just shortly after placing the call, it was reported that a vehicle drove into the grass median where the deputy and the woman were standing and hit them before speeding off.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they discovered Pennell and Enchautegui-Otero laying injured in a grass median on SR 60 near Lake Wales.
Following the hit and run, Enchautegui-Otero – who was engaged to be married and “recently finished a program in medical billing and coding” – was transported to Lake Wales Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead just shortly upon arrival.
Pennell, who is also married, was taken to Lakeland Regional Health hospital listed in critical condition after suffering a “broken pelvis and other broken bones” but he is expected to survive.
Investigators have yet to identify the driver of the vehicle who struck Pennell and the Tampa woman in a fatal hit and run, but according to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, they are “confident that with the community’s help, we will identify and arrest the coward who ran over a deputy and a young woman and left them both for dead, and then fled the scene.”
“We will work day and night until this case is solved. And to the coward who did this — we advise you to turn yourself in, sooner rather than later.”
Reinaldo Enchaultegui, who is the victim’s father, stated that she was a “sweet and hardworking girl, working for her kids.”
“This is the second one I’ve lost this month. My son passed away the second of this month, now my daughter in the same month. Too much for me.”
On behalf of Deputy Sheriff Adam Pennell’s wife, Christin, the following statement was released.
“Our prayers are with the family of Jessica Enchautegui-Otero, and we remain hopeful that with the public’s help we will find the person responsible for killing her and severely injuring Adam.”
“We appreciate everyone’s support while Adam faces upcoming surgery for his injuries, and we ask for your privacy and your prayers. More than anything we hope the suspect is found. Please join us in keeping Jessica’s family and loved ones in your prayers during this extremely difficult time.”
Several social media users were stunned after learning Enchautegui-Otero was killed and a deputy was injured after a vehicle plowed into the pair while standing in a grass median. Some believe the incident to be suspicious, saying “this doesn’t sound like an accident. It looks intentional.”
Maybe she was ran off the road and the person came back to finish the job,” Brandy Riley wrote in a Facebook post. “Maybe someone she knows. That’s what it sounds like to me.”
Another Facebook user, Brad Davis, said: “Had he been issued a dash cam or body cam, could have gotten them on camera possibly and you wouldn’t need the public to help you.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office are now offering a $3,000 reward for anyone with information regarding the hit and run on SR 60. According to a Facebook post, you are “urged to contact PCSO immediately at 863-298-6200.” If you want to remain anonymous, call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (0344).
[Featured Images by Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock]