Father, children identified in Lake Co. crash

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida Highway Patrol troopers have identified the Lakeland father and his three young children who were killed in a crash in Lake County Friday evening.

According to officials, 41-year-old Wilfredo Malave and his three children, Zion, 9, Phoenix 7, and Avaya, 2, were killed in the single-vehicle crash. The father and children were from Lakeland, troopers said.

Questions remain about what exactly caused the deadly crash near Groveland. Florida Highway Patrol officials told WFTV it could take months to complete the crash investigation.

Officials said that at approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday, Malave was traveling southbound on State Road 33 in his 2009 Mercedes when he lost control for unknown reasons.

The Mercedes left the roadway in the area of State Road 33 and Groveland Airport Road. According to troopers, the vehicle first struck several trees and a pole, then continued on the shoulder of the road before striking another tree.

Officials said Wilfredo and Zion Malave were pronounced deceased at the scene. The two other children were pronounced dead at South Lake Hospital.

Wilfredo Malave and two of the children had seatbelts on during the crash and the toddler was in a car seat, investigators said.

According to court records, Wilfredo Malave was arrested for DUI in 2010 and has received several traffic citations, including ones for speeding, failure to obey traffic signals and passing in a no passing zone.

Officials closed State Road 33 near the crash site for several hours while troopers investigated.

Stay with WFTV and WFTV.com for the latest on this story.