Fatal car accident results in 15-year prison sentence

A St. Petersburg man was given a 15-year prison sentence on June 17 after pleading guilty to charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death, vehicular homicide, fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended or revoked license, possession of cocaine and battery on a law enforcement officer. The charges resulted from a Sept. 5, 2011, car accident that killed an 88-year-old Florida man.

Authorities say the now 29-year-old man was driving a Ford Mustang on 35th Street North in St. Petersburg when an officer attempted to pull the vehicle over after the driver allegedly swerved around some speed bumps. Instead of stopping, the man went south and ended up running a stop sign and hitting a Toyota Camry, according to police.

The driver of the Mustang reportedly fled the accident scene on foot after the crash and was later identified through DNA evidence left on an airbag and the fact that the car was registered to a family member. According to police, he hit an officer when he was placed under arrest.

The 88-year-old man who had been driving the Toyota Camry suffered severe injuries, including fractured ribs, neck and pelvis and an injured spleen. He died from the injuries approximately four months after the accident.

In cases where a driver is convicted on criminal charges, like vehicular homicide,  related to an accident, it may make it easier for victims or surviving family members who are pursuing civil suits to show that the driver was at fault and should be held financially accountable. Monetary compensation cannot bring a loved one back, but it can provide some reimbursement for medical and burial expenses and help bring closure to the family.

Source: The St. Petersburg Tribune, “St. Pete driver gets 15 years in fatal crash” Stephen Thompson, Jun. 18, 2014

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