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The Villages
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Christmas Eve crash in Leesburg claims lives of Eustis couple and 13-year-old passenger

A Eustis couple was killed on Christmas Eve in a two-vehicle crash in Leesburg and a 13-year-old passenger died Christmas morning at an Orlando hospital.

This crash at the intersection of State Road 44 and Dozier Court in Leesburg, which was photographed by a passing motorist, left a Eustis couple dead on Tuesday night. A 13-year-old passenger riding with the couple died Christmas morning at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.

Christopher Smith, 44, and his front-seat passenger, 35-year-old Jessica Smith, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 8:30 p.m. crash at the intersection of State Road 44 and Dozier Court. Their two juvenile passengers were transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, where the young teenager died late Wednesday morning, a Leesburg Police report states.

The crash took place when a 2019 black Dodge Ram pickup, driven by 33-year-old Zachary Waldo, of Mount Dora, was traveling east on SR 44 and collided with the 2018 Toyota passenger car driven by Smith. It appeared that Smith had been traveling west on SR 44 and was making a left turn onto Dozier Court when the pickup collided with the right side of his vehicle, the report says, adding that it is unknown which driver had the green light for the right-of-way.

Leesburg Police and other emergency responders were called to a crash on State Road 44 on Tuesday night that claimed the lives of a Eustis couple and a 13-year-old passenger in their vehicle and also left three others injured.

Waldo and his passenger, 33-year-old Kevin Cunningham, of Tavares, were transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center for further treatment. Their conditions and that of the other juvenile weren’t available Wednesday.

SR 44 remained closed Tuesday night in both directions for about 6½ hours. The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Leesburg Police traffic homicide investigators at (352) 787-2121.

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