What's left of a Nissan 350Z after it hit a concrete power pole at a high rate of speed along County Road 540A early Sunday morning. | Courtesy PCSO

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has a message for teenagers and young adults who think they’re indestructible: Please, slow down.

“Nothing can be more accurate than the statement, ‘Speed kills,’” Judd said Monday morning, one day after a harrowing single-car crash that killed one teen and left another in critical condition.

Investigators say Luis Yadiel Nieves Boria, 18, of Lakeland, was driving at “a very high speed” on County Road 540A just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday when he lost control of the car and hit a concrete utility pole in front of Scott Lake Elementary School.

Nieves Boria was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Thomas Terry, also 18, of Lakeland, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition with head trauma, broken bones and lacerations.

“This car was absolutely disintegrated upon impact,” Judd said. “There’s a mother and father without a child. There’s a young man, a very young man, a teenager that won’t grow up to have a family and children of his own. It is a miracle that the other young man has survived up to this point. And certainly we pray for a speedy and full recovery for him. But it’s horrible, it should not have occurred.”

PCSO spokesman Brian Bruchey said traffic homicide detectives determined that Nieves Boria’s black Nissan 350Z had been speeding east on CR540A. After passing the intersection of Scott Lake Road, Nieves Boria lost control of the car, which began to rotate before it left the south side of the road and struck the concrete utility post, which is about 6 or 7 feet in diameter.

The accident happened in under five seconds. Bruchey said Nieves Boria was wearing a seat belt, but Terry was not. Both were ejected from the car.

“Part of the Nissan wrapped around the pole, and other parts of the car were propelled approximately 150-feet away from the pole,” Bruchey wrote in a press release. That’s about half a football field in distance.

A neighbor on Quail Ridge Drive heard the crash and went out to see what had happened.  About two minutes later, the neighbor flagged down a passing deputy. Polk County Fire Rescue, PCSO Traffic Homicide Investigations and Crime Scene Investigations also responded to the scene.

Judd said it’s hard to explain to teenagers “or anyone else for that matter” what happens to a vehicle when it hits an immovable object like a concrete pole or large tree at a high rate of speed.

“You can be in full control at 100 miles an hour until you’re not,” Judd said. “And the ‘not’ may be because of your mistake or it can be an environmental factor, something in the road — you know something pulls out and frightens you, you try to miss a wild animal that wanders out into the road, like a possum or a raccoon.”

Judd said at the speed Nieves Boria was traveling — which has yet to be determined — he was outrunning his headlights.

“You can’t see down the road,” Judd said. “You know if he was doing the same thing in the daytime and an animal ran out in front of him, he might have had time to react if that occurred. … nighttime adds to it, weather conditions add to it.”

“The only thing he can control is the speed,” he said. “And as you can see from those pictures, the car was — there was not just a crash, there was an explosion. It was a total demolition of the vehicle.”

Judd said there is currently no indication that Nieves Borias was drag racing, but he added that investigators will be reviewing security cameras from various businesses along that stretch of road.

Bruchey said in the past two years, deputies have charged 20 people with illegal racing along county roadways. Lakeland Police officials did not provide any statistics. 

Mourners have left flowers and a balloon at the site where Luis Yadiel Nieves Boria died after his Nissan 350Z hit a concrete power pole at a high rate of speed along County Road 540A early Sunday morning. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

Amelia Hart teaches social studies at Lakeland Senior High School and posted on Facebook that Nieves Borias was her student as a sophomore and then as a senior.

“I learned early this morning that I lost one of my babies, who graduated last year, in a tragic car crash. Luis was a wonderful kid,” Hart said. “He was quiet and kind with a good sense of humor. He always hustled to make money, and I’ll admit to printing shipping labels for him for shoes and whatnot that he was reselling online. I’m going to miss this polite young man’s gentle energy. My heart goes out to his loved ones. May you rest in peace, Luis. You are so loved.”

A memorial of sorts appeared Sunday and Monday as mourners, many of them teens, left flowers and a balloon at the crash site.

Former classmates of Terry, who graduated from George Jenkins Senior High School in May, posted well wishes on social media and shared prayers for his recovery.

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips: newstips@lkldnow.com


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

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.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Most people speed back and forth in front of my Polk County home with nary a care. They’ve learned the risk of getting cited is minimal.

Leave a comment

Your Thoughts On This? (Comments are moderated; first and last name are required.)