Another woman charged in Lakeland DUI crash that killed fishing captain

LAKELAND — After a second woman was charged this week in November’s fatal I-4 crash that killed a popular fishing captain, the man’s longtime partner said she had l feel like I’ve lost “a piece of my soul”.

“I lost the love of my life on November 24, 2021,” said Jeanine Provo, 45, of Tampa. “And I will never feel that love for anyone again.”

Brent Kirkendall, 44, Holiday’s father of two, was killed the day before Thanksgiving near Mile 28 on I-4. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said his Ford F250 was parked on the paved shoulder after a minor traffic accident, and as he prepared to leave he was hit by a Ford Fusion driven by Lucretia Bruno, 47, of Lakeland.

Bruno was charged with impaired manslaughter, among other charges. Officials said she had a blood alcohol level of 0.207 at the time of the crash. The legal limit is 0.08. She was released from Polk County Jail on $26,500 bond after her first court appearance.

But this week, the sheriff’s office announced the arrest of Bruno’s friend, Michelle English, 45, of Brandon. Sheriff officials say English gave Bruno her car keys to drive home knowing she was drunk, even after the Lakeland Police Department told the two women Bruno was in no condition. To drive. English was charged Wednesday with negligent manslaughter.

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The sheriff’s office said more evidence revealed that English and Bruno dated on the day of the accident. They said they were first at Brewlands Bar and Billiards drinking around 4 p.m., then went separately to Lucky’s Bar about an hour later. Security footage showed Bruno was unstable and intoxicated, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies said Bruno left around 7:40 p.m. and went to a WaWa convenience store and ordered a sandwich. They said security video shows Bruno swaying and unsteady as he paid for his sandwich. The employee realized this and tried to take his keys, but Bruno took them away.

The sheriff’s office said she then went to the restroom, where she dropped her keys and another customer gave them to the clerk. An employee called LPD.

When officers arrived, officials said they discovered Bruno had vomited on herself, but was found without her keys, so officers were unable to arrest her for impaired driving. because there was no evidence that she was in control of the vehicle.

Officers called English to pick her up in WaWa.

Brent Kirkendall, 44, was a fishing captain and ran charters out of Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County and Lake Toho in Osceola County.

“When Michelle arrived, obviously she was not intoxicated,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference this week. “The officers who were there said, ‘Look, we’ll let you take Miss Bruno home, but you have to take her straight home and make sure she’s not driving a motor vehicle. “”

LPD officers remained at the scene and saw English and Bruno leaving the store parking lot in English’s vehicle, Judd said. The agents told the store clerk not to give Bruno his keys until morning.

The sheriff’s office said a witness saw English return to the parking lot with Bruno after LPD left. Bruno climbed into the driver’s seat of his car while English entered the store and retrieved Bruno’s car keys.

Officials said the clerk believed English was collecting the keys to get Bruno’s car for her. Bruno struck and killed Kirkendall nine minutes later on I-4, sheriff’s officials said.

“These two women are responsible for this senseless death,” Judd said in a statement. “If English had been a good friend, she would never have let Bruno drive a vehicle. Instead, nine minutes and seven miles after handing her car keys to her inebriated friend , a man’s life was needlessly lost.”

The call: “Please sit down”

Brent Kirkendall, 44, with his 25-year-old son, also named Brent.

Provo, 45, said she has known Kirkendall since they were in high school and he was a tournament fisherman for many years. She said he decided to become a captain in 2018, running charters from Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County and Lake Toho in Osceola County.

“He enjoys seeing people catch their personal bests more than he enjoys fishing,” Provo said.

Kirkendall had a 25-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter.

Provo said it was difficult for those close to Kirkendall to cope with his sudden death.

“I remember the night I was called and told,” Provo said. “I was called by one of his good friends and he said ‘please sit down’ and I said ‘why? “and he said ‘Brent died tonight’ and I said ‘no’ and then I just screamed.”

Brent Kirkendall with his partner Jeanine Provo.

Provo said anyone considering drunk driving should call an Uber or find another way to get home. She said she would bring anyone drunk home to make sure they are safe.

She said Kirkendall was a genuine person and was in excellent health. She said he trains regularly and can lift 400 pounds.

“I thought he would outlive me,” she said. “And now I feel like a piece of my soul has been taken.”

“They took my best friend, my person,” Provo said. “They took a son, they took a father from our family for one decision.”

She said Kirkendall was a very smart man.

“He could fix a car, take a part of it, and completely put it back together,” Provo said. “He fixed all his own vehicles and boat engines. He was just super smart.”

After a tragic loss, Provo also said, “Life doesn’t stop, but it gets hard.”

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