The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide Unit responded to a two-vehicle crash the evening of Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Winter Haven. The crash killed 35 year-old Michael Sweet of Winter Haven who was driving a 1999, blue Chevrolet Ventura Van, Sweet’s van was struck head-on in his lane by a truck driven by a drug dealer on federal probation.
The at-fault vehicle was a 2019, black Chevrolet Silverado Pick-up truck driven by 36 year-old George Pizano, Jr. of Bartow. A 10 year-old child was a passenger in the vehicle. Neither Pizano nor the child were wearing seatbelts. Neither suffered serious injuries.
According to the preliminary investigation, at approximately 7:28 pm, Sweet was traveling northbound on 42nd Street Northwest when Pizano’s Chevrolet Silverado, traveling southbound, crossed the double center line hitting the Chevrolet Ventura head on. Sweet’s van spun and overturned causing the roof to collapse. He was declared deceased on-scene.
Video of the crash was obtained which supports the detectives’ initial findings.
During the investigation, detectives spoke with Pizano, who smelled of marijuana, and observed Pizano demonstrating actions indicating impairment as a factor in the crash. According to the affidavit, those indications “include the clear and obvious odor of cannabis coming from his person and breath, [Pizano] having issues with balance as he was walking, swaying while he was standing, bloodshot and watery eyes, attempting to cover his mouth with his hand in what appeared to be an attempt to hide his mouth or redirect his breath, to show signs of confusion when recalling the events of the crash and drowsiness. This confusion included recalling what direction he was coming from, where he was going, and what happened during the crash. These are all indications of possible impairment.” A blood sample was obtained to confirm Pizano’s impairment.
“Some people just don’t learn, and George Pizano is one such person. He has been on federal probation less than a year and is right back to his old tricks. This is one more example of a so-called “low-level, non-violent” drug related to a fatal and heartbreaking conclusion. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Michael Sweet.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
Pizano was arrested and charged with DUI Manslaughter (F-2), DUI with Property Damage (M-1), and Child Neglect (F-3). Pizano’s criminal history includes 19 felonies and 17 misdemeanors. Pizano is also on Federal Probation for drug trafficking. Pizano, the ringleader of a large-scale drug trafficking organization, was federally charged and sentenced on March 30, 2011, to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of probation. Pizano did not serve his full 20 years, instead he was early released to probation on August 16, 2019.