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Polk man arrested in fiery wrong-way crash that killed Spring Hill father of three

The driver who troopers said was going the wrong way faces charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
Jose Esteban Jimenez, right, is charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in connection with a February crash in Hernando County, shown left, that killed Spring Hill resident Rhiddari D. McKenzie. [Polk County Jail]

A man from Polk County has been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in connection with a February wrong-way crash in Hernando County that killed a Spring Hill father of three.

Jose Esteban Jimenez was arrested at his home in Frostproof last week and was booked into the Polk County Jail. He is being held without bail.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Jimenez was driving a 2014 GMC pickup south in the northbound lanes of State Road 589 when he ran head-on into a 2006 Mini Cooper driven by Rhiddari McKenzie, 39, just north of County Line Road. The crash took place at about 1:45 a.m. on Feb. 3 in heavy fog, troopers reported.

McKenzie died at the scene. Jimenez was hospitalized with serious injuries. Troopers said they suspected Jimenez had been impaired at the time of the crash and that charges were pending a full investigation.

After the crash, McKenzie’s family members told WFTS-Ch. 28 ABC that he was a doting father of three.

“He was a dad that took his kids to school on time everyday (and) picked them up on time. (He) helped them with their projects (and) cooked meals. That’s the type of man he was,” his sister Sasha McKenzie told the TV station.

“We have lost a great person in our family. We can never get him back,” she said.

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