Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies charged 30-year-old Courtney Wright of Winter Haven for vehicular homicide (F2) and driving with a suspended driver’s license (F3) yesterday following a crash caused by Wright when he ran a red light at a high rate of speed. 80-year-old Raymond Hart of Lake Wales was killed when Wright’s 2010 gray Chevrolet Equinox rammed Hart’s 2003 gray Chevrolet Silverado at US Highway 27 and Chalet Suzanne Road. Mr. Hart entered the intersection under a green light.
At approximately 10:25 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, Lake Wales Police Officer Sean Robertson clocked Wright driving north bound on US 27 at 98 mph in a 60 mph zone south of the Eagle Ridge Mall. The officer activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop.
According to the arrest affidavit:
“As the suspect vehicle approached the intersection [U.S. 27 and Chalet Suzanne Road] he began to change lanes in a reckless manner weaving through traffic at a high rate of speed. When the other vehicles separated to yield to Officer Robertson the suspect vehicle crossed two other northbound lanes of travel and entered into the right turn at a high rate speed. The suspect failed to stop at the red light and entered the intersection at a high rate of speed.”
Mr. Hart died at the scene from his injuries. Wright was transported to a local hospital for treatment for non-life threatening injuries. When he is released from the hospital, he will be booked into the Polk County Jail.
Further investigation revealed Wright’s Florida driver’s license was not valid at the time of the crash and that he had numerous suspensions. His license was revoked on 08/31/2015 for being a habitual traffic offender. It was also suspended on the following dates: 09/26/2016, 06/05/2017, 06/29/2017, 03/07/2018, 05/29/2018, 05/30/2018, 07/09/2018, 07/11/2018, 08/08/2018, 08/27/2018, 09/19/2018, and 01/13/2020.
Wright is a convicted felon and has an extensive criminal history that includes 12 previous physical arrests in Polk County, 26 total felony charges, 16 misdemeanor charges, 15 re-arrest charges, and one incarceration in state prison. His previous charges include disorderly conduct, burglary (multiple counts), grand theft (multiple counts), petit theft (multiple counts), robbery, dealing in stolen property, aggravated battery (DV), battery, harassing a victim, failure to appear in court (multiple counts), battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, throwing a deadly missile at an occupied vehicle, knowingly driving while license suspended (multiple counts), willful refusal to accept a citation, failure to register a motor vehicle, and violation of probation (multiple counts).
“Wright’s horrifically reckless behavior directly led to this terrible tragedy—an innocent man is dead and his friends and family are grieving. Wright shouldn’t have been driving, and frankly, with his criminal history, he should have been in prison. Wright demonstrated zero concern for the lives of others—we will do everything we can to hold him accountable and see that he spends a long time in prison.” Grady Judd, Sheriff
“Mr. Wright’s selfish and criminal actions have negatively impacted the lives of so many people—Mr. Hart’s family is devastated. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We are going to do everything in our power to hold Wright accountable for his actions and make sure that justice is done.” Chris Velasquez, Chief of Police, Lake Wales
The PCSO investigation determined that Wright willfully operated the vehicle he was driving in a reckless manner and should have known that his actions could cause injuries or death to another human being. Wright was charged with vehicular homicide (F2) and felony driving with a suspended driver’s license (F3). Lake Wales Police Department has also charged Wright with fleeing a law enforcement officer (F3).