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OFFICIAL Polk County Sheriff's Office (Florida)

Sheriff: ‘You give your car keys to a drunk, I will arrest you’

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Brandon woman arrested for Culpable Negligent Manslaughter stemming from November 2021 fatal I-4 DUI crash

 Alicia Manautou, PIO

Michelle English gave car keys to a woman to drive home whom she knew to be intoxicated; 9 minutes and seven miles later, the drunk woman drove her vehicle onto the shoulder of I-4 and into a man standing next to his vehicle, killing him

On Wednesday, January 12, 2022, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide detectives arrested 45-year-old Michelle English of Brandon for Culpable Negligent Manslaughter (F2) in connection to a November 24, 2021 fatal Interstate 4 crash. In that crash, 47-year-old Lucretia Bruno of Lakeland was charged with DUI Manslaughter for driving into and killing a Holiday man and ramming his vehicle that was parked on the paved shoulder of the interstate near Exit 28 on I-4. Detectives learned that English, contrary to directions given to her by Lakeland Police Officers, handed Bruno her car keys to drive home knowing she was intoxicated.
 
The November 24, 2021 fatal crash killed a Holiday man on Interstate 4 West, and detectives arrested Bruno for DUI (M1), 2 counts of DUI with Property Damage (M1), and DUI Manslaughter (F2). Bruno was released from the Polk County Jail on a $26,500 bond following her first appearance hearing.
 
An analysis of a blood sample provided by Bruno showed she had a blood alcohol level of .207 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The legal threshold for DUI is 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
 
Further evidence during the investigation revealed English and Bruno were out together the day of November 24th. They first met at Brewlands Bar and Billiards (5161 US 98 N, Lakeland) where Bruno began drinking just after 4:00 p.m. About an hour later, the two left the bar together and traveled separately to Lucky’s Bar (4318 US 98 N, Lakeland) where Bruno continued to consume alcohol. English was present, and along with others in the bar, witnessed Bruno’s impairment. Security video in the bar showed that Bruno was unstable and intoxicated. 
 
Bruno left the bar at around 7:40 p.m. and drove to WaWa’s convenience store (4328 US 98 N, Lakeland). Bruno entered the store and ordered a sandwich. Security video shows that while Bruno attempted to pay for the item, she was unstable on her feet, was swaying, and had difficulty paying with her credit card. The clerk, recognizing that Bruno appeared to be very intoxicated, attempted to take Bruno’s car keys from her, but Bruno pulled them back from the clerk’s hands. Bruno later entered the restroom at WaWa’s and at some point dropped her keys there. She returned to her car in the parking lot without her keys. Another customer later retrieved the keys and turned them into the clerk at the register. 
 
A store employee called the Lakeland Police Department to report an intoxicated person after her interaction with Bruno and LPD officers responded. When the officers arrived they found Bruno was intoxicated and had vomited on herself. She was found not to be in possession of her keys, so officers were unable to arrest her for DUI because they were unable to show evidence of her being in control of the vehicle. The officers called Bruno’s friend, Ms. English, and she agreed to pick up Bruno and drive her home because she was too intoxicated to drive. LPD officers stayed at the scene and they witnessed English and Bruno leave the store parking lot in English’s vehicle. The LPD officers also told the store clerk to not release the car keys to Bruno until morning.
 
A few minutes after the LPD officers left the parking lot, a witness observed English returning to the store parking lot with Bruno. Bruno exited the vehicle and went to her car where she sat in the driver’s seat. 
 
At the same time, English entered the store, retrieved Bruno’s car keys, and returned to Bruno’s vehicle. The clerk thought English was picking up the keys to retrieve the car, not realizing English was going to give them to Bruno and allow her to drive. English, knowing Bruno was intoxicated and after being told by LPD officers Bruno could not drive, gave Bruno the car keys and watched as Bruno drove her car from the store.
 
Nine minutes later, Bruno struck and killed the man on I-4.
 
“Both of these women are responsible for this senseless death. If English had been a good friend she would have never let Bruno behind the wheel of a vehicle. Instead, nine minutes and seven miles after handing her intoxicated friend the keys to her car, a man’s life was needlessly lost.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
 
PCSO traffic detectives located English in Hillsborough County yesterday, January 12, and with the assistance of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, arrested English and transported her to HCSO Jail. She will be transferred to the Polk County Jail. English’s previous criminal history includes 4 felonies for Driving on a Suspended License (Habitual Offender), Child Abuse, Fraud, and Grand Theft.  

Here is the security video of Lucretia Bruno and Michelle English recorded the day of the traffic fatality (November 24, 2021): https://youtu.be/tE8nhqKyMoY. Bruno is the dark-haired woman in a gray sweatshirt. English is the blonde-haired woman wearing dark colored leggings and fuzzy slippers. 

AS PREVIOUSLY RELEASED:

46-year-old Lucretia Bruno of Lakeland was arrested Wednesday night, November 24, 2021, for DUI Manslaughter (F2), after she struck and killed a Holiday man on Interstate 4 West near Exit 28 and West Memorial Boulevard. The crash occurred around 8:45 p.m.

From evidence and witness statements gathered, a white 1999 Ford F250 and a black 2014 Ford Mustang had been involved in a minor crash on westbound I4, east of the West 10thStreet overpass. Both vehicles were stopped on the north side paved shoulder area, had exchanged drivers’ information, and were preparing to leave the area. The driver of the Mustang and his two passengers were sitting inside their vehicle. The driver of the pick-up truck had walked back to the driver side of his vehicle; his passenger was inside the truck.

At the same time, a white 2017 Ford Fusion, driven by Bruno, entered I4 from the US 98 onramp and was observed in the outside lane driving erratically and drifting over the right fog line several times. As Bruno approached the pick-up truck and Mustang, she drifted even farther over the fog line striking the driver’s side of the pick-up truck and the driver who was standing at the opened door. The impact of the crash propelled the driver into the Fusion’s windshield.

Bruno then crashed into the rear of the Mustang, pushing it forward and causing the driver of the pick-up truck to fall from the Fusion’s windshield and strike the bumper of the Mustang.

Bruno’s Fusion rotated clockwise and continued west for about 50 feet before coming to a stop on the north shoulder of I4 facing south.

The driver of the pick-up truck died at the scene.

No one else was injured.

Witnesses said that after the crash, Bruno stumbled from her car and had to steady herself by holding on to her vehicle’s trunk.

Bruno told deputies that she had just left a bar where she drank 5 or 6 beers, and she was on her way home.

According to the affidavit, Deputies smelled alcohol on Bruno, her eyes were watery, and her speech was slurred. Deputies observed Bruno to be unsteady on her feet, she swayed from side to side, lost her balance several times, and would raise her hands away from her side to help steady herself.

Bruno consented to a blood alcohol test; the results are still pending.

“There is never an excuse to drink and drive. A family has lost a loved one because of this woman decided to get behind the wheel of a car after consuming 5 or more beers. There are so many alternative options available, from calling a a friend or family member to using a ride sharing application. Please, this holiday season, and throughout the year, don’t drink and drive.” –Grady Judd, Sheriffgrady

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