Tragedy in Florida as Pregnant Teenager Dies in Drunk Driving Accident

Mother & Baby taken too soon

The entire state of Florida and thousands of people across the country were plunged into heartbreak, shock and grief when they heard the news of one Tiffany Ann Woodham who was nine months pregnant and was killed in a drunk driving accident as she was on her way to the hospital to deliver the baby.

The accident occurred on Sunday when Woodham, 19 years old, had gone into labor and was rushing to the hospital seated in the back seat of a minivan. The suspected drunk driver was a Tulsa, Oklahoma resident who was allegedly driving under the influence when he rear-ended the minivan carrying Woodham of Bartow, Florida and three other passengers. Despite conducting an emergency C-section, the doctors could neither save Woodham nor the baby due to the intense injuries sustained in the accident. According to Bay News 9, the alleged drunk driver was a 37 year old Thomas Jeffery Dick from Oklahoma who slammed his pick-up truck into Woodham’s minivan on a Winter Haven highway in Florida.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported later that Dick was driving a 2012 silver colored Dodge Ram pickup while Woodham was in a blue Chrysler minivan and the accident took place at about 10:19 PM on Sunday night at the intersection of Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven and US Highway 27 in Florida. The minivan was stopped at a red light when the pickup rammed in the rear left of the minivan, just as the light turned green, exactly where the expectant mother, Woodham was seated. After the impact, both vehicles rotated several times and traveled south about 30 feet west of the highway before coming to a stop.

The press release by the sheriff’s office also stated that the pickup truck had encroached a shocking five feet into the van. As a result of the accident, Tiffany Woodham, who was seated in the left rear passenger seat, suffered from head trauma and was unable to survive the ambulance ride to the hospital due to her severe injuries. Other passengers in the minivan including Tiffany’s fiancé and the father of her unborn child (Zack Rowles), who she had already named ‘Novalee Annabelle’, were taken to area hospitals for the injuries they sustained in the crash. These passengers included Tawnya White, the friend of the couple, who was driving the minivan and Diane Cheverier, 37, who is married to Mike Rowles, Zack’s father and was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car. While Cheverier was air-lifted to the nearest hospital due to her serious injuries, Rowles, who was seated on the back right hand side of the car, suffered from non-life threatening injuries and White was merely treated for bruises.

The accident took place just minutes after Woodham had called her mother, Teresa Hidie, to inform her of the contractions that she had started to have at the time. Hidie asked her daughter how far apart were the contractions she was experiencing to which Woodham replied, ‘at this moment mom, and it’s been this way for an hour, it about 30 minutes’.

According to the authorities, the suspected drunk driver, Thomas Dick, was driving 20mph over the speed limit; investigations later on determined his vehicle’s exact speed based on the crash data recorder to be 83mph right before the crash. According to witness reports, including a witness who had been following Dick’s car for miles before the crash; the allegedly drunk driver had been driving recklessly, veering off the highway minutes before the accident.

According to the arrest affidavit, the responding officers to the scene of the crash detected the alcohol odor on Dick. He was taken to a nearby hospital for head injury and a nasal bone fracture. The toxicology report of the driver, Thomas Dick, revealed that the Oklahoma resident had a blood alcohol content of 0.131 which is approximately twice the legal limit of 0.08 in the state of Florida. Additional blood samples were also taken of the suspect for further evaluation and testing for law enforcement agencies.

In addition to being arrested, jail records reveal that Thomas Dick is being charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of DUI manslaughter, and two counts of DUI including severe bodily injury as well as one count each of DUI and damage to property.

The family of Tiffany Woodham has been left senseless after the shock and grief. According to local news, Cody Breton, brother of Woodham, was reported as saying, ‘I can’t put it to words. I’m so upset by it, I can’t even cry’. The social media is being flooded by tributes and messages for Woodham, her unborn baby girl, for her fiancé Zack, who has a daughter named Mackenzie from a prior relationship, and for Woodham’s entire family.

Sarah Elizabeth Kent, a good friend of Woodham, has initiated an effort to raise donations for Woodham’s family to help them pay for the funeral proceedings. Kent believes that her family is in need of all kinds of prayers and support in this difficult time.

Tiffany Woodham attended Bartow High School and according to her Facebook profile, she described herself as ‘a simple person with huge dreams’. She worked in the sales department at Kmart since April and had met her fiancé, Zack, in 2010 describing him to be a shy person who proposed to her merely months after they started dating.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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