POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Four people were killed and two others were injured in a four-vehicle crash east of Haines City on Monday, in which one car caught fire, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Lake Hatchineha and Watkins roads, allegedly caused by Riquelme Villar-Villalona, 35, who deputies said they attempted to pull over in reference to a 911 call from the Poinciana area about a possible abduction.
During a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Grady Judd said the timeline leading up to the fatal crash began at noon.
“A caller was frantically saying, ‘There’s a woman being beaten, he has drug her back into the car, she’s bleeding, you’ve got to stop him, I’m afraid he’s going to kill her,’” Judd said.
A deputy located Villar-Villalona’s vehicle from a description given during the call. When the deputy turned on their emergency lights to stop the car on suspicion of abduction and aggravated battery, Judd said the suspect immediately drove into the path of oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes of Lake Hatchineha Road.
The deputy decided to turn their emergency lights off and disengage the pursuit as they kept up with the suspect vehicle at a distance from the southbound lanes of the road, taking that time to verify if the alleged abduction victim was still in the car with Villar-Villalona, Judd said.
As Villar-Villalona continued driving, Judd said the car struck the back of a pickup truck, sending it spinning into the path of oncoming traffic while the suspect vehicle became airborne.
Villalona was ejected and killed, two people inside of a car that Villalona’s vehicle landed on were killed, and one person inside of a second pickup truck that struck the first was killed, Judd said. Additionally, Judd said two people inside of the car that was landed on received significant injuries, and another person inside of the second pickup truck was also injured.
Judd said that the scene was “total carnage,” and one that took his traffic homicide detectives “hours and hours and hours” to investigate.
“It’s among the worst traffic fatalities we’ve seen in this county,” Judd said.
If Villar-Villalona had survived the crash, Judd said he would have been charged with three counts of vehicular homicide, as well as abduction or aggravated battery.
After the fact, Judd said deputies learned the woman in question was Villar-Villalona’s girlfriend, and that she had been taken to a hospital for a cut she was given during the initial fight. She allegedly refused to cooperate with deputies and had fled her home by the time law enforcement arrived to serve a search warrant, Judd said.