Hit-and-Run Driver Admits He Was a Coward to Victim’s Family at Trial

The crash happened November 28, 2010 in Atlantic Beach. The bicyclist, a Navy Lieutenant, had left a bar with a group of friends around the same time as a 30-year-old Neptune Beach man driving a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) left a separate bar. The two converged upon an Atlantic Beach intersection, the SUV driving through as the bicyclist went through a stop sign. The 26-year-old helicopter pilot was hit and as he lay on the ground the motorist left the scene. The pilot suffered a skull fracture and spent the next five days in a coma before he died. The mothers of both men were in a Jacksonville courtroom Friday, September 30, pleading with the judge to deliver what each considers the appropriate sentence on Monday, October 3 when court reconvenes in the sentencing phase for the SUV driver. Under a plea agreement, the motorist could spend up to 15 years in prison for leaving the accident scene when there was a death.

After the motorist left the scene, he put his vehicle in a garage and told his boss he hit a deer. At trial, he apologized to the family of the victim and told them he was a coward. He admitted to having four or five beers that night, but since he left the scene he was not tested for intoxication. He admitted to the judge he knew he had struck a person and that he saw the man lying on the ground. Then he got in his car and left. The victim had a blood-alcohol level of .19, more than twice the legal limit for intoxication.

Florida Reckless Driving Statute
Many people writing to The Florida Times-Union don’t believe the motorist should be punished because the pilot was legally intoxicated, but the law doesn’t look at it that way. Florida Statute 316.192(1)(a) defines reckless driving as the wanton or willful disregard for the safety of property or persons. This could involve speeding, driving under the influence, or racing. It doesn’t matter whether or not he intended to hurt someone – he did. And it doesn’t matter whether the victim was intoxicated, blind, or walking on one leg.

When a driver leaves the scene of an accident and fails to stop and give information to law enforcement or render some sort of aid to the injured, and either knew or should have known that the accident occurred (Fl. Statute 316.062), he or she has committed a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

The plea agreement has already cut down this motorist’s possible prison time to 15 years. The hit-and-run Florida accident attorneys at Farah & Farah remind everyone not to drive drunk or even buzzed. Name a designated driver and if an accident does occur, never, ever leave the scene.

Source: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2011-09-30/story/i-was-coward-says-driver-atlantic-beach-hit-and-run-killed-pilot