Traffic crash on S.R. 78 results in fatality

GLADES COUNTY — A 33-year-old Okeechobee woman has died as an apparent result of a traffic crash that occurred at State Road 78 and Sixth Street in Glades County.

A Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) press release stated Tammy S. Helfenstine was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Dec. 15. The release goes on to state Jacob B. Simms, 11, also of Okeechobee was listed as sustaining serious injuries and transported to Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee.

According to the release at approximately 7:17 a.m. Friday, Mrs. Helfenstine was traveling northbound on State Road 78 approaching Sixth Street in her 2011 Chevrolet Traverse mid-size SUV when a 2005 Freightliner 6 X 4 truck, driven by Jorge D. Reyes Romero, 37, of Miami, was traveling southbound on State Road 78 also approached Sixth Street.

Mr. Romero was following a 2007 Freightliner 6 X 4 truck, driven by Reynol Hernandez Seijas, 40, also out of Miami, when Mr. Seijas began to slow down due to slower traffic up ahead. Mr. Romero began to slow down as well but was unable to slow down in time and collided with the rear left of Mr. Seijas’ trailer. Mr. Romero then began to travel directly into the path of Mrs. Helfenstine. The front of Mr. Romero’s truck collided with the front left of Mrs. Helfenstine’s SUV.

Mr. Romero’s truck came to a final rest between the north and southbound lanes of State Road 78 faced in a southeast direction. Mrs. Helfenstine’s vehicle came to final rest between the northbound lane of State Road 78 and the east grass shoulder facing west.

Neither of the truck drivers and one of the passengers with Mrs. Helfenstine sustained any injuries. All individuals other than Mrs. Helfenstine are noted as wearing their seat belts. Mr. Romero was issued a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation for careless driving.

The accident was investigated by Trooper C. Gonzalez, FHP crash investigator, and Trooper Corporal J.D. Close, FHP homicide investigator.

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