Car slams into Winter Haven gas station shop, killing customer inside

A gas station customer in Winter Haven died after a car slammed into the store where he was shopping Sunday morning.

According to Polk County deputies, it was just before 5 a.m. Sunday when a Kia Optima was speeding westbound on Havendale Blvd.  As the driver approached the intersection with Idylwild Drive, he entered the eastbound lanes, drove over the curb, and entered the parking lot of the Marathon gas station there.

The sedan hit a Ford Mustang that was parked at the pumps, then plowed into the side of the gas station store.

William Clabough of Bartow was standing at the counter as the crash happened. The 52-year-old was pinned underneath the car when rescuers arrived. He later passed away at a Winter Haven hospital.

“It pushed him into this little ice cream machine that we had and it literally pushed the little ice cream machine through the wall,” said Matt Murphy. “It has been weighing on my mind to see someone die right in front of you.”

Clabough leaves behind four adult children and several grandchildren, his family told FOX 13.

“Nothing can prepare you for something like his,” his father, Pastor Mark Clabough, said. “He was always just a sweet person.”


Photo via PCSO

Murphy said after the driver crashed through the building, an SUV showed up. The man in the SUV and the driver of the Kia unloaded whatever was in the trunk of the Kia into the SUV.

“As soon as the first sheriff’s office deputies showed up, the SUV took off,” Murphy said.

As of late Monday afternoon, investigators have not identified the drivers of the Kia or the SUV.

The driver of the Kia was also hospitalized. Deputies say “speed and impairment are suspected” as factors in the crash, and they anticipate filing charges against him.