LAKE WALES, Florida -- Dr. James Moyer is the chief academic officer at Warner University in Lake Wales, which sits right by the busy, high-speed U.S. 27. So far this year, he recalls an unusually high amount of car crashes on the highway, including one involving a Warner student who was leaving campus.
Moyer is also a chaplain for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, who helped comfort Candy Greathouse's family. The 27-year-old and her 3-month-old daughter, Laaina, were killed on Monday in a car crash on U.S. 27 just north of County Road 630. The only surviving passenger in the car, Greathouse's 2-year-old daughter, Arriana, is in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital.
"This family has been on my mind all throughout the day. I've just been lifting up prayers for the father," Moyer said. "As a parent, you have to relate how that must feel, knowing that there's no way you can know that dad's feeling right now to lose not only his wife but his newborn baby."
Greathouse was driving northbound on U.S. 27 around 1:30 p.m. on Monday when she lost control of her car, crossed through the median, and hit a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck pulling a travel trailer.
The driver of the truck, 71-year-old Robert Holbrook, and his wife, 65-year-old Pansi, were taken to Lake Wales Hospital and were treated for minor injuries and later released.
Three days earlier on U.S. 27, the Polk County Sheriff's Office lost one of its own, detention support specialist Victor Lopez. He was killed on Oct. 26 when his car spun into the median near County Road 640, about eight miles north of Monday's crash.
In March, a series of chain reaction crashes on U.S. 27, south of the Warner University campus, killed a motorcyclist. There was heavy fog that day, and a semi truck driver is being cited for careless driving.
"It's a freakish coincidence that we've had so many crashes on that road," said Carrie Eleazer with the Polk County Sheriff's Office. "There are residents all up and down 27 who would like to see the speed limit lowered and traffic devices put in. However, it's been our experience with traffic crashes, no matter what stretch of roadway, simply not paying attention is the biggest reason we have [them]."