Staff Writer

AVON PARK — Twice within a week a vehicle has run off State Road 17 south of Avon Park and rolled into a culvert by Walter Vanderpool’s front yard.

In the Friday evening DUI-related accident, a woman’s car came to rest near a tree and in the Thursday morning crash, a man’s car came to rest near a telephone pole, Vanderpool said Thursday as he watched the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office investigate the latest accident in the area.

Vanderpool said the male driver pulled himself out the vehicle and appeared to be shaken, but apparently not injured.

The Sheriff’s Office reports that the driver of the vehicle that came to rest on its driver’s side, Casy Stukes, 31, of Sebring, was transported to Advent Health for precautionary reasons with minor injuries.

The Buick was following a Malibu that was traveling north, according to Stukes, the Sheriff’s Office reports. The Malibu slowed to turn right onto Don Carlos Avenue and the Buick locked up its brakes.

There will be no citations in Thursday’s accident, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Vanderpool said people try to pass vehicles in this area of side roads where other drivers are reguarly trying to come onto SR 17. He said the drivers go too fast in the area.

On Friday a car came out here “flying,” he said. “The car went airborne right across my driveway and down in the ditch and right into the anchor [chainlink] fence that is all smashed up.”

The Thursday morning accident is in the same spot where the traffic cones are, Vanderpool said. Both cars just missed a telephone pole and the car on Friday just missed a tree.

Vanderpool said he had been in that house for 30 years and has never had an accident in his yard, Vanderpool said. The accidents usually occur a little farther north on the curve.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Friday accident around 6:20 p.m. After being medically cleared at the Advent Health Emergency Room, Linda Webb-Stephens, 57, of Avon Park, was arrested and charged with DUI with property damage. She was driving a 2001 GMC Yukon.

Vanderpool’s brother, Dennis, said the cars go by so fast on this highway doing 70 to 75 mph.

“I see the sheriff’s department go by here all the time,” he said. “But, the cars just go entirely way too fast and around the curves; I have seen them passing each other.

“Whenever you pull out onto the highway you really have to watch yourself,” Dennis Vanderpool warned.


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