A driver lost his life this morning when his Ford F-150 slammed into the Waller Construction & Design Center on South Florida Avenue in Dixieland after he hit two vehicles while attempting to speed past another, according to the Lakeland Police Department.

The driver, identified as 52-year-old Troy Davidson of Boca Raton, entered “the center lane against the solid yellow, no-passing lane” of Florida Avenue a little north of Belmar Street around 6:10 a.m., according to police spokeswoman Robin Tillett.

His northbound pickup truck hit two southbound SUVs: a Lakeland Police Department Ford Explorer driven by Officer Andrea Smith and a Mitsubishi driven by Lebrun Washington, 59, of Austell, Ga., Tillett said. Then he crashed into the Waller building a block to the north.

Crashed cruiser
The damaged Lakeland Police Department vehicle | Barry Friedman, LkldNow
The Ford F-150 in the Waller Center, 1065 S. Florida Ave.

Smith and Washington were transported to the hospital and treated for minor injuries, she said.

The police vehicle and white Mitsubishi ended up in the middle of South Florida Avenue between Born & Bread Bakehouse and Saint-Fleur Internal Medicine & Associates, two businesses located midway between West Belmar and Park Streets.

South Florida Avenue was closed for about five hours, reopening around 11 a.m.

Map showing where the three cars ended up

Waller Construction & Design Center was “thankfully unoccupied at the time,” Tillett said.

When the F-150 slammed into the building, it penetrated concrete block and brick, strewing displays to the other side of the newly redesigned Waller showroom.

First responders attempted life-saving measures, but Davidson was declared dead at the scene, Tillett said.

Paula Adkins said she was heading southbound on Florida Avenue to her job at Scott Lake Health and Rehab when the truck, which was northbound, almost hit her.

“This guy sped through the middle of town, almost clipped me, clipped the cop car,” Adkins said. “He wound up in the middle lane. When he tried to avoid me, he clipped the cop car. He got turned around. It was a little bit scary.”

She said she stopped and helped a Lakeland police officer out of her SUV. She appeared to be uninjured, Adkins said.

Mitsubishi and LPD Explorer
The white Mitsubishi and the LPD Ford Explorer that were sideswiped.

The structure housing the Waller Center was built in the 1940s as an early Publix store. “This is the very first Publix store that Mr. George built from the ground up in Lakeland,” said retired Publix historian Jennifer Bush, referring to Publix founder George Jenkins.

Neighbors reported hearing helicopters overhead for several hours; the helicopters appear to have been from TV stations, not law enforcement agencies.

It was business as usual at Born & Bread Bakehouse, where customers line up for cruffins and other bakery goodies on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The police car was hit in front of the business, and owner Jennifer Smurr told a reporter that some of the employees heard the loud crashes as they were preparing to open and were shaken up.

The Police Department asks that anybody with information about the crash contact Officer Camilo Almeida at Camilo.almeida@lakelandgov.net

Police reroute rush-hour South Florida Avenue traffic onto East Belmar Street.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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  1. Another example of over building, populating small towns that do not have the road space, infrastructure to support the overwhelming volume of traffic. This creates frustration among drivers who try to push through jammed traffic. The city and county are to blame for reducing the life long residents quality of life.

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