Lake Wales, Florida -- A Polk County Sheriff's detention deputy was killed in a three-vehicle crash on U.S. 27 early Friday morning.
Deputies say around 6:23 a.m., 62-year-old Victor Lopez was driving his 1998 Kia north on U.S. 27, just south of CR 640, when for unknown reasons he went into the median and hit a gray 2012 Nissan Rogue driven by Martha Ritch who was in the median facing west about to turn onto southbound U.S. 27.
The collision pushed her car into the southbound lane and she was then hit by a 2003 Toyota heading south.
Lopez's Kia came to a rest in the median and he was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Ritch, 59, and the driver of the Toyota, 40-year-old Cheryl Greives, were taken to Lake Wales Hospital where they were treated and later released.
An investigation suggests Lopez lost control of his car but are asking for anyone who saw the crash to call the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200.
The sheriff's office says Lopez worked with them as a detention support specialist at the South County Jail since November 2000. He had been on his way home after working a night shift at the time of the crash.
Captain James Hogan, commander of the South County Jail released the following statement after learning of Lopez's passing:
"Victor took his job at the Sheriff's Office very seriously, and he came to work every day with this huge smile on his face. Whenever you spoke to him, his face would always light up. His coworkers who counted on him for their safety knew he always had their back. We as his work family mourn his loss. We will come together and help each other through this tragic event."
Lopez is survived by a sister in Tampa, and four grown children - a daughter in Brandon, and twin daughters and a son in Puerto Rico. He is preceded in death by his wife.