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3 of man's relatives, including 2 children, killed in Lake Wales crash

It's believed a driver tried to pass a car in a no-passing zone and crashed into an oncoming car.
Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Four people, including a man's three relatives, were killed in a multi-car crash likely caused by a driver who crashed into another car in a no-passing zone, the sheriff's office said.

It happened around 10:30 p.m. on State Road 60 about a mile east of County Road 630 near Indian Lake Estates, according to a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release.

Deputies say 83-year-old Phillip Penatello was speeding east in a no-passing zone and drove into the westbound lane. That's when he crashed into a truck driven by a 67-year-old woman, which caused one of its tires to separate and hit a car driven by a 19-year-old man.

Penatello kept driving and crashed nearly head-on into a car driven by a 42-year-old man, the sheriff's office said. Their car rotated and came to a stop in a drainage ditch on the north side of the road.

The 42-year-old was airlifted to an area hospital with several broken bones; he was listed in stable condition. His three passengers were killed: 45-year-old Veruska Salvador, 12-year-old Ashley Salvador and 11-year-old Albert Salvador. 

They all were wearing seat belts, according to the sheriff's office.

Penatello was airlifted to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

The 67-year-old woman and 19-year-old man suffered only minor injuries.

Deputies closed the road for about six hours overnight to conduct an investigation. Because the suspected at-fault driver, Penatello, died, the sheriff's office says no charges are pending.

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