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The Lakeland Police Department wants to remind motorists to Click It or Ticket this holiday season. Each year, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times, millions of people will be travelling to visit with family and friends. What this means is that there will be more vehicles on the roads, and more danger as we travel. It is always important to buckle up, but when there are the additional vehicles on the roads, it is more important than ever. We want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season; therefore the Lakeland Police Department will join with departments across the state in the Click It or Ticket Safety Belt Enforcement Wave. The enforcement runs from Monday, November 17, 2014 through Sunday, November 30, 2014 at midnight.

Nationwide, seat belt usage is at an all-time high of 87 percent, but the Click It or Ticket campaign aims to reach that remaining 14 percent. In 2012, there were 10,335 unbuckled occupants killed in crashes—52 percent of all passenger vehicle occupants killed that year. At night, the numbers are even more disturbing. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2012, law enforcement noted that 69 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed at night were unrestrained, as compared to 46 percent during the day. 

The single best thing anyone can do to protect themself and save lives is to buckle up. It only takes a second!

For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.



On Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 8:03 p.m., Lakeland Police responded to a traffic crash on State Road 33. The investigation revealed that a 2001 Ford Focus was travelling westbound on SR 33 at the same time as a 2003 Toyota minivan was travelling eastbound. The minivan traveled through a left hand curve then entered the westbound lane of travel.  The two vehicle’s collided in a near head-on collision within the westbound travel lane.  Both vehicles were at final rest and disabled.  

The driver of the minivan has been identified as 55 year old Dakshesh M. Patel of Lakeland. The driver of the Ford Focus is identified as 23 year old Austin W. Guy of Lakeland. 

The operators of both vehicles were transported to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. A 6-week old infant was in the passenger vehicle and is recovering fine with the grandmother.  The front right passenger, 21 year old Kayla M. Bryant, was pronounced dead at the scene.  There were no visual indicators of impairment by the operator of the minivan. Both drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Next of kin has been notified. The scene was marked for follow-up investigation.  The investigation is ongoing and post follow-up is being completed. 



Join Lakeland PAL in celebrating 100 years of the National PAL organization. On November 1, 2014, the PAL Celebration Dinner and Silent Auction will be held at the Apostle Henry Ross Center from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The MC for the evening will be Smart Mouth Entertainment’s Jason Alexander and includes guest speaker, Big Milton Creagh, and live entertainment.

Tickets may be purchased in advance for $25.00 or at the door for $35.00. We also thank the sponsors of this event: Publix Super Markets Charities, Lakeland Electric, Regal Lakeland and Super Choice Foods.

WHEN:         Saturday, November 1, 2014
WHERE:      Apostle Henry Ross Center
                    1302 MLK Jr. Avenue
                    Lakeland, FL
TIME:          6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
TICKETS:   $25.00 in advance
                   $35.00 at the door

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please contact Lakeland PAL at 863-834-8970.


On July 23, 2014, a dark colored vehicle was traveling southbound in the inside lane on State Road 37 (South Florida Avenue) in the 2600 block.  The vehicle drifted left of center and entered the shared center turn lane where construction workers were located.  The vehicle struck several construction barrels and subsequently struck a construction worker, later identified as Shelby Kenneth Shull, 44 years of age.  The collision with pedestrian Shull resulted in his death.  The vehicle failed to stop after the impacts and continued southbound.  

Investigative leads resulted in information that the vehicle at the time of the crash was a black 2006 Jeep Wrangler and was being operated by Dustin Halstead, 21 years of age.  The vehicle was located and an Inspection of the vehicle revealed biohazard on the hood.  The vehicle was impounded as evidence and processed for the aforementioned biohazard inside the Lakeland Police crime lab.  The samples were submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for DNA comparison with the blood obtained from decedent Shull.  FDLE Lab report revealed a DNA match between the samples.

On Wednesday October 15, 2014 at approximately 2:30 p.m., Dustin Halstead turned himself into Traffic Homicide Investigator Michael Catalano on the charge of - Leaving the Scene of a Crash involving Death, a first degree felony.  Halstead was transported and turned over to the Polk County Jail in Bartow.