WINTER HAVEN — A search is underway for a Volusia County man suspected of leaving the scene of an Oct. 31 crash in Winter Haven that left a woman injured and trapped in her car.
An arrest warrant has been issued for David Ellis Jr., 41, of Oak Hill. Investigators with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Ellis was eastbound on Havendale Boulevard when he turned into the path of a westbound Nissan Maxima at 5:34 p.m.
The driver of the Nissan, Victoria Barnett, 19, of Auburndale, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was trapped until emergency responders arrived, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. She was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Barnett was wearing a seat belt, PCSO spokesman Brian Bruchey said.
Ellis, who was driving a rented U-Haul truck, fled on foot, Bruchey said.
Ellis faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury, knowingly driving with a revoked license and transporting automotive tires without a permit. He has six prior charges of driving with a suspended or revoked driver license; he spent two years in prison, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.
Investigators discovered illegal drugs in the truck, which also contained approximately 90 tires. Erica Grasso, 30, also of Oak Hill and a passenger in the rental truck, was later arrested in Volusia and transported to Polk to face charges of possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She remains in the Polk County Jail, with bail set at $2,000.
Anyone with information about Ellis’ whereabouts is urged to call the Polk Sheriff’s Office, 863-298-6200. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, call Heartland Crime Stoppers, 800-226-8477 (TIPS).
- Eric Pera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7528.