Man charged with DUI manslaughter in crash that killed pedestrian

Suspect was also speeding, Polk deputies say

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

Rodney Schmitz

LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland man has been charged with DUI manslaughter in connection with a crash earlier this year that killed a pedestrian, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Rodney Schmitz, 36, was driving his 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV on Knight Station Road at 10:22 p.m. Jan. 5 when he struck 18-year-old Charles Goode, who was walking along the roadway with his back to traffic.

An off-duty deputy witnessed the crash and stopped to render aid to Goode and call first responders, according to a news release. Goode died at the scene, authorities said. Schmitz was not injured.

A blood sample from Schmitz was taken at the scene, which showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.181 at the time of the crash, a news release said. Deputies said Schmitz was driving between 58 and 69 mph in a 40 mph zone.

"This suspect made the very poor choice to drink and drive, which led to the untimely death of a young man and will likely lead to a prison sentence for the driver. There is never, ever a justification for drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car. The consequences are almost always tragic," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Schmitz was arrested Wednesday on charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

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