Sheriff's investigators say 43-year-old Tera Kita and her 9-year-old son Brandon Arcadipane died at the scene when their SUV rolled into a water-filled ditch on Tom Costine Road. | Courtesy PCSO

Heavy rain might have contributed to an accident on Tom Costine Road on Wednesday afternoon that left a mother and her son dead.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that 43-year-old Tera Kita was driving a gold 2000 Chevrolet S10 Blazer northbound on Tom Costine Road, west of Beverly Hills Road, at about 4:30 p.m.

As she began to take a right-hand curve on the rural road in the Green Swamp, the rear wheels of the Blazer lost traction and the SUV began to slide. The SUV then left the roadway on the south shoulder, where it rolled upside down and landed in a water-filled ditch.

Both Kita and her 9-year-old son Brandon Arcadipane died at the scene. Both were from Lakeland.

“This is devastating – a family has lost a mother and a son, and our hearts break for them,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in the press release.

The road was closed for about four hours after the crash. An investigation is being conducted.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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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 or 863-272-9250.

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