Man accused of running over 79-year-old woman

OKEECHOBEE – Late Saturday night, a 79-year-old woman was hit by a car and pinned against her own house. The driver of the car was allegedly trying to hit her grandson and hit her by mistake. Chester Eugene Woodall, 28, was arrested by Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mark Margerum after OCSO received a call on Saturday night, Oct. 27, in reference to a disturbance. According to the report, dispatch advised a white male suspect driving a gold or silver car was armed with a bat. They further advised someone may have been run over.

Chester Eugene Woodall, 28

While enroute to the scene, Detective Margerum reported observing a Chevy Malibu matching the description with extensive front-end damage. Behind that vehicle was a truck with a driver attempting to flag down Detective Margerum, pointing towards the Chevy Malibu. Detective Margerum reports turning his vehicle around to follow the Malibu. Detective Margerum conducted a traffic stop, and identified Mr. Woodall along with his fiancé Leah Clase, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. The report states Mr. Woodall had blood around his mouth and an abrasion on his back and Ms. Clase kept saying that Mr. Woodall had mental health issues. The Chevy Malibu appeared to have blood and flesh on the grill.

The couple in the truck that had flagged down Detective Margerum spoke only Spanish, but when Deputy José Garcia arrived, he was able to speak to them, and they advised him several people had been run over.

Leaving Mr. Woodall and Ms. Clase with Deputy Stephen Paladino, Detective Margerum and Deputy Garcia proceeded to the residence where they reportedly found a chain link fence knocked down and a trail of blood leading onto the porch, into the front door and straight to an elderly woman lying on a couch. The report states the victim had a deep laceration on her right wrist exposing part of her bone. She also had several deep lacerations below her right knee. There were several family members in the residence who reported seeing the suspect run over the victim. Detective Margerum reports being unable to speak with the victim due to her injuries and the language barrier.

The victim was airlifted to Lawnwood Hospital because of her injuries.

Because Mr. Woodall smelled strongly of alcohol, he was reportedly asked if he would consent to a field sobriety test. He agreed to the test but was unable to complete it and was arrested and charged with DUI at that time.

Ms. Clase was asked how the damage to her car had happened and according to the report, she said she did not know because she had blacked out. During her interview with Detective Margerum, Ms. Clase said Mr. Woodall went out there to have a fight. She said she believes he did it because he is on Lexapro and he should be on Prozac. The report states Ms. Clase admits seeing Mr. Woodall hit the victim and that when it happened she told him he just ruined both their lives.

The report concludes, Chester Eugene Woodall was criminally charged with aggravated battery with a weapon, a second degree felony. He was also charged with criminal mischief over $1,000, a third degree felony. Bond will be set by the judge.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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