Sheriff: Woman gave keys to drunk friend for fatal accident, defying police

A woman is accused of giving car keys to her drunk boyfriend who later drove and killed a man in a DUI crash in central Florida.

The Polk County Police Department has arrested 45-year-old Brandon Michelle English for wrongful death.

Her arrest stems from a fatal crash on November 24, 2021 on I-4.

Investigators said Lucretia Bruno, 47, of Lakeland, overturned a pickup truck that was pulled up to the shoulder, killing a man from Holiday.

Deputies arrested Bruno on charges of DUI manslaughter, DUI, and two counts of DUI with property damage. Investigators said she had a blood alcohol level of 0.207, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 in Florida.

During the investigation, detectives learned that Bruno and English went to different bars together on the day of the crash. Detectives said Bruno started drinking at Brewlands Bar and Billiards in Lakeland just after 4 p.m. The two friends then traveled in separate cars to Lucky’s Bar.

The Sheriff’s Office has released surveillance video of Lucky’s Bar of Bruno talking to people at the bar. Her chair falls over at one point. Detectives said she is unstable and drunk as she stumbles to the door.

“She was shocked when she left Lucky’s Bar,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “She was drunk, drunk head drunk. She was crushed.”

At 7:40 PM, investigators said Bruno left the bar and drove to a Wawa supermarket to buy a sandwich. The clerk tried to take Bruno’s keys at this time and told investigators that the woman was having trouble paying with her credit card due to her alleged intoxication. But Bruno took the keys and went to the toilet. Detectives said Bruno dropped her keys in the bathroom and went back to sit in her car. Another customer found the keys and left them with the clerk, who called police about Brown’s degree of intoxication.

According to the sheriff’s office, Lakeland police arrived and found Bruno with vomit on herself, but not in possession of her keys, so they couldn’t arrest her for drunk driving. They had no evidence to show she was in control of her car. Instead, they called English to pick up Bruno and take him home because she was too drunk to drive. The servant still had Bruno’s keys and the police told the servant not to release Bruno’s keys until the next morning. Police remained at the store until English drove off with Bruno as a passenger.

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Witnesses told the sheriff’s office that English had returned to the Wawa with Bruno. Bruno, according to the sheriff’s office, sat back in her car while English went in to get the car keys from the clerk. The clerk handed over the keys, assuming English needed them to pick up the car. Instead, English handed the keys to Bruno and watched her friend drive away.

Nine minutes and seven miles later, Bruno would be involved in a DUI crash on I-4. According to the sheriff’s office, witnesses said Bruno stumbled out of her car and had to hold on to the trunk to stay upright.

“Both women are responsible for this senseless death,” Judd said. “If English had been a good friend, she would never have left Bruno behind the wheel of a vehicle. Instead, nine minutes and seven miles after she handed her drunk boyfriend the keys to her car, a man’s life had been needlessly lost.”

Detectives arrested Engels in Hillsborough County. Her criminal record includes arrests for child abuse, fraud, grand theft and driving with a suspended license as a common offender. English has since been moved to the Polk County Jail.

The sheriff added that it would be nice to see both Bruno and Engels in the state prison.

“Okay, who knows. Maybe they can both plead guilty and go to the same prison and have a few conversations like, “That was really stupid of me to give you those keys.” “Well, you knew I was drunk, you should never have,” Judd said. “Maybe they can go to the state prison together.”

Bruno worked as a secretary at an elementary school.

The victim in the crash had actually been involved in a minor accident when he stopped to exchange information with the other driver, the sheriff’s office said. His name is not being released.

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