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Teacher at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie among 3 killed in Polk County crash

Couple's truck hit head-on by 22-year-old woman's vehicle
Luis Rodriguez and Joamar Maldonado of Port St. Lucie were killed in a crash on April 6, 2024, in Polk County.
Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 08, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Friends and family are mourning the loss of a Port St. Lucie couple killed this past weekend in a head-on crash in Polk County.

The two-vehicle wreck claimed the lives of Luis Rodriguez, 54, and Joamar (Josie) Maldonado, 52. The couple were traveling with their 3-year-old grandson, Jaydyn, but he survived the crash.

The child was taken to a local hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.

The family was returning home from Busch Gardens in Tampa, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Crash in Lake Wales.jpg
Three people were killed in a head-on Lake Wales crash on Saturday.

The crash also killed Hannah Wieser, 22, of Winter Haven, who was driving a 2015 Ford Flex westbound on State Road 60 East, east of County Road 630. Investigators said Wieser entered the eastbound lane to pass a van. However, she struck the Port St. Lucie couple's Ford F-150, which was traveling east, head-on.

The sheriff's office said everyone involved in the wreck was wearing seatbelts.

St. Lucie Public Schools said Maldonado was a teacher at West Gate K-8 School where she taught English to students who speak another language (ESOL).

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to her family and friends during this difficult time," the school district said.

The school will have on-site grief counseling services available to students and staff.

Gabriel Rodriguez shares memories of his parents, Luis Rodriguez and Joamar (Josie) Maldonado, who were killed in a crash in Polk County.
Gabriel Rodriguez shares memories of his parents, Luis Rodriguez and Joamar (Josie) Maldonado, who were killed in a crash in Polk County.

Gabriel Rodriguez, the couple’s son, spoke to WPTV on Monday after losing his parents.

He was first alerted that something was wrong Saturday after his mother's Apple watch sent an SOS alert to him.

"Since I'm one of her emergency contacts, it went to me," Rodriguez said.

He said his parents loved life, their family and friends.

"They did everything," Rodriguez said. "It's gonna be a tough few years, tough rest of life, but we're going to be able to get through it."

The couple's family has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs.