Sheriff: Boy, 15, riding scooter to friend’s house killed by driver swerving to avoid dogs

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — An Auburndale High School student died in a crash early Tuesday morning, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.


Deputies responded to multiple 911 calls from the area of 34th Street NW and Avenue S NW near Inwood just before 6 a.m. reporting a collision between a Dodge Durango and a teen riding a scooter.

The teen, identified by the sheriff’s office as 15-year old Yeriel Gonzalez of Winter Haven, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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According to a preliminary investigation by PCSO’s Traffic Homicide Unit, Gonzalez was riding a small electric scooter near the center of the southbound lane of 34th Street, on his way to a friend’s house.

At the same time, deputies say 29-year-old John Barrett III of Winter Haven was driving a 2016 Dodge Durango northbound on 34th Street, on his way to work.

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According to the sheriff’s office, the Durango was behind another vehicle as it approached the intersection with Avenue S.

Deputies say Barrett told them he swerved to avoid some dogs that ran into the roadway and entered the southbound lane of travel, directly in Gonzalez’ path.

Barrett was not injured in the crash.

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Chaplains from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to meet with the boy’s family.

PCSO’s Safe Schools Division is also working with Polk County Public Schools to provide assistance to Auburndale High School students, faculty, and staff who may need it.

The crash remains under investigation.

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