Two Winter Haven men were involved in a crash early Saturday morning, January 27, 2024; one of the men died, and the other fled the scene.
Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and members of Polk County Fire Rescue were dispatched to the crash on Cypress Gardens Boulevard at the north end of Old Helena Road in Winter Haven at around 12:25 am.
When first responders arrived, they found 26-year old Reuben Goss deceased.
Mr. Goss had been driving a 2007 black Suzuki motorcycle south on Cypress Gardens Boulevard when he was hit by a white GMC pickup truck that was northbound when it crossed in front of the Suzuki while attempting to turn onto Old Helena Road.
Mr. Goss was wearing a helmet, but the force of the impact caused him to be ejected from the motorcycle.
PCSO deputies began investigating the crash and searching for the driver who fled from the scene in the truck.
The white GMC was found unoccupied and parked behind a local pub about 600-feet away.
The owner of the truck was identified as 38-year old Wayne Berry.
The investigation revealed that Berry parked his truck and went inside the pub, but he left on foot after employees refused him service because they felt he was “not right.” He walked over to a lounge on Cypress Gardens Road and left there a short time later after he got a ride from a friend.
Berry was located by PCSO detectives at his residence and he was arrested and charged with DUI Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Death.
Berry has had one previous DUI arrest and several license suspensions.
“I pray for the family of Mr. Goss; their loss is immeasurable. We can’t bring him back, but the Traffic Homicide detectives tracked down the man responsible, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that Mr. Goss’ family sees justice served.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
The crash remains under investigation.