Three killed in crash caused by suspected drunk driver


POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Polk County deputies are investigating a triple fatal crash that they said was caused by a suspected drunk driver early Sunday morning.

The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. at the intersection of Shepherd Road and Coronet Road in Lakeland.

According to investigators, a Chrysler Sebring, driven by 56-year-old Dorothy Operhall, was stopped on Shepherd Road at the intersection's stop sign. When Operhall continued through the intersection, a GMC pickup truck traveling on Coronet Road approached at a high rate of speed and crashed into the Chrysler.

Both vehicles were thrown roughly 150 feet from intersection, deputies said.

Operhall and two of her passengers were killed in the crash. They have been identified as Melina Helbig, 48, and Leonard Simmons, 51. A third passenger, 50-year-old Robert Helbig Jr., was rushed to Lakeland Regional Medical Center and is in critical condition.

The driver of the GMC pickup truck, 21-year-old Edward McCoy, is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the crash, officials said. He was taken to LRMC with several broken bones and is expected to survive.

Charges are expected to be filed against McCoy, deputies said. The crash remains under investigation.