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Driver Found Possessing Cannabis in Crash That Killed Three


Posted on May 23, 2013

On Sunday, April 28, 2013, a fatal Polk County car crash occurred that resulted in the death of three people and the arrest of one person. According to police, the Lakeland auto accident took place around 2:42 a.m. at the intersection of Cornet and Shepherd roads.

It appears that Edward McCoy, a 21-year-old driver of Lakeland, was driving his 2000 GMC pickup truck south on Cornet Road. According to an affidavit, McCoy was driving at high rate of speed and forced a vehicle off the road. Following this incident, he ran a stop sign at Shepherd Road where he plowed into another car.

The vehicle he hit was a 2006 Chrysler Sebring that was carrying 56-year-old Dorothy Operhall and 51-year-old Leonard Simmons, both of Mulberry, as well as a Rochester, Pa. couple, 48-year-old Melina Helbig and 50-year-old Robert Helbig.  Upon impact, the Chrysler rolled over and came to a rest on its top. Sadly, three of the occupants died of their injuries. Robert Helbig suffered serious injuries and was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for medical care.

Edward McCoy’s vehicle also rolled in the crash, and he was taken to the area hospital for treatment as well. After an initial investigation, police smelled alcohol on his breath. They found a homemade pipe on his person, discovered that he had just come from a bar, and confirmed his blood alcohol level of .234.

McCoy was arrested and charged with three counts of DUI causing death, one count of DUI causing serious bodily injury, three counts of vehicular homicide, and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia.

The Mallard Law Firm would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost their loved ones in this crash.

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