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Tampa woman killed, Polk deputy injured after being struck by vehicle in Lake Wales

 
Jessica Enchautegui-Otero, inset left, was taken to Lake Wales Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead. Deputy Adam Pennell, inset right, was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. He suffered a broken pelvis and other broken bones but is expected to recover. [Polk County Sheriff's Office, Instagram]
Jessica Enchautegui-Otero, inset left, was taken to Lake Wales Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead. Deputy Adam Pennell, inset right, was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. He suffered a broken pelvis and other broken bones but is expected to recover. [Polk County Sheriff's Office, Instagram]
Published Oct. 30, 2016

A 33-year-old Tampa woman was killed and a 25-year-old Polk County sheriff's deputy was seriously injured early Saturday morning when a vehicle struck them while they were standing in a grass median in Lake Wales, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Now deputies are searching for the driver, who did not stop.

"We are confident that with the community's help, we will identify and arrest the coward who ran over a deputy and a young woman and left them both for dead, and then fled the scene," Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. "We will work day and night until this case is solved. And to the coward who did this — we advise you to turn yourself in, sooner rather than later."

The Tampa driver was identified as Jessica Enchautegui-Otero. She was taken to Lake Wales Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Deputy Adam Pennell was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. He suffered a broken pelvis and other broken bones but is expected to recover.

The deputy was assisting Enchautegui-Otero about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Her gray 2009 Toyota Matrix had driven off eastbound State Road 60 and struck a tree just east of Sam Keen Road and west of Tiger Lake Road. In the dark, she walked back to the highway to get help.

At 12:35 a.m., the deputy called for paramedics to come treat Enchautegui-Otero, who had sustained head injuries. He made his last transmission at 12:38 a.m., according to the Sheriff's Office.

When paramedics arrived at 12:45 a.m., they found the deputy and Enchautegui-Otero lying in the median severely injured. The Sheriff's Office said that a driver heading west on State Road 60 drove into the grass median and struck Enchautegui-Otero and Pennell, then sped off.

The Sheriff's Office said that the Tampa woman's car was off the road, but the deputy's cruiser was parked in the inside westbound lane of State Road 60 with its emergency lights flashing.

Deputies do not have a description of the vehicle yet, but they believe its front-end was damaged.

Enchautegui-Otero was the mother of two sons, 16-year-old Xavier and 11-year-old Kenneth. She was engaged to be married, but had yet to set a date for the wedding.

"She wanted to finish school and then she was going to figure out the rest," cousin Wanda Lopez said, adding that Enchautegui-Otero had recently finished a program in medical billing and coding.

Lopez described her cousin as the life of the party and said she had a passion for motorcycles. She had survived a bout with cancer in her finger last year.

Saturday's incident was the second tragedy this month for Enchautegui-Otero's family. Her older brother, Reinaldo Enchautegui Jr., died of cardiac arrest Oct. 2. Enchautegui-Otero was devastated, but had to be strong, cousin Jose Marrero said. She planned the funeral.

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Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a $3,000 reward for information that will led to the identification and arrest of the driver responsible for Saturday's incident. Call 1-800-226-8477 or send a tip online via heartlandcrimestoppers.com.

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.