Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Near-fatal SJSO car wreck, $6.3 million in general funds reserves settlement, swathed in County, Sheriff's secrecy. No respect.

November 22, 2023 UPDATE:  No questions were answered at November 21, 2023 by Sheriff ROBERT HARDWICK and lawyer MATTHEW CLINE.  But an unidentified plain clothes deputy accosted me and said something nasty and incoherent after I spoke out in public commenagainst the Sheriff's office mismanagement and. on this case. More later when calls are returned.

November 20, 2023 UPDATE:  1.  County Administrator Joy Andrews wrote earlier this afternoon with link to her planned November 21, 2023 reorganization presentation, item 2 on agenda, also adding proposed confirmation of Mr. Neil Shinkre, P.E. as Utilities Director. 

2. County PR man WAYNE LARSON also wrote and oddly asked me to provide him with a copy of the requests I sent him earlier, belatedly offering to help. 

3. Still waiting on response to request on $6.3 million settlement proposal and the deputy's reckless driving, which nearly killed a lady when a new deputy took a call, executed an illegal U-turn, without using his lights or siren.  Does being St. Johns County mean never having to say you're sorry?  

4. What's next?


November 18, 2023, 9:30 AM post:

Horrible April 2019 automobile wreck was front page news. St. Johns County Deputy Brandon Hetzler responded to call without turning on his lights or siren, executing a U-turn.  Two motorcycle drivers went to hospital in critical condition.   St. Johns County Sheriff's Department told press that the two motorcycles, driven by a couple who were engaged to be married, ran into deputy car attempting to make a U-turn.   In fact and in truth, Deputy Brandon Hetzler executed a U-turn to respond to a call, with no lights and no siren.  Automobile negligence" Willful wanton recklessness?  One of the two crash victims, Ms. Julia Perez, nearly died -- Ms. Perez was in coma for three months. She became homeless.  Ms. Perez had to learn how to brush her teeth and do other chores again.  $6.3 million settlement proposed. Claims bill pending in legislature.  Item 1 of agenda for our November 21, 2023 St. Johns County Commission agenda here,  currently with only this brief blurb: 

Ironically, there's also no supporting documents for the second item on the November 21, 2023 agenda either: it is described in 33 terse words: "County Administrator Joy Andrews will introduce a framework aimed at enhancing open governance and operational efficiency within the County. A newly developed organizational chart, highlighted changes, and their intended purposes will be provided."  

Efforts to learn more have been rebuffed by County spokesman WAYNE LARSON and County Administrator JOY Q. ANDREWS and Sheriff ROBERT HARDWICK & Co. have provided NO documents and kept the people and our County Commissioners in the dark.  A spirit is haunting St. Johns County -- the malign spirit of Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994.  SHOAR rejected body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras, stating he rejected 'the false narrative" that "cops need to be watched."  Speaking of government coverups, he late investigative reporter Jack Anderson told a Camden County College forum when I was in high school, "They cut off the news at its source." 

Yes, my friends, "Cops need to be watched."  And County officials, too.  It's a tough job. We need more watchdogs.  We've got enough lapdogs to last a lifetime in our local governments.

On Thursday, November 16, 2023, 09:38:46 AM EST, Ed Slavin <> wrote:

Good morning:
1. Would you kindly post on the County Sheriff, Commission and Clerk of Courts websites today PDFs of all of the documents associated with agenda item number 1 on the November 21, 2023 SJC BOCC meeting agenda? 
2. Please include any body worn camera and dashboard camera images.  Please include the complaint, answer, depositions,
incident report, FHP accident report, criminal investigation files, witness statements, press releases and settlement negotiation documents.
3. Our County website is currently unadorned and unencumbered by the pertinent documents, not even the complaint. 
4. The County website states only:
The purpose of this agenda item is to allow the Sheriff of St. Johns County to settle a civil case filed on March 25, 2020bearing Case No. CA20-0387. This case stemmed from an automobile accident on SR 16 whereby a deputy sheriff operating a marked patrol vehicle pulled in front of a motorcyclist causing serious bodily injury. The Plaintiff and Defendant are in agreement with the terms and conditions, and final payment to the Plaintiff is subject to passage of Claims Bill(s) SB 10 and HB 6007. The net settlement amount is $6.3 million after Sheriff's Office insurance coverage.
5. Please remedy instanter.  
6. Please call me to discuss today.
7. How, why and to whom did the St. Johns County Sheriff's office ever report incomplete, selective, misleading or false information about the car wreck, including FHP and the news media?   (The victim, who was in a coma for three months, was not responsible for the what the County calls an "accident," when it appears that the deputy in quo may have executed a U-turn, answering a call, without lights or siren?  
8. What efforts has the County taken to correct the record and apologize?  
9. Please provide pertinent pages from the Deputy Brandon Hetzler's personnel file.
10. Did the County or its insurance companies and agents ever assist the victim financially pendente lite?  
11. Did she become homeless as a result of the Sheriff's and County's indifference to the value of human life?
12. How much money has the Sheriff's insurance provided in settlement?
Please provide documents.
Please call me to discuss.

From First Coast News:

Motorcyclist critically injured in deputy-involved crash in St. Johns County

All eastbound lanes of State Road 16 are blocked near I-95 due to the crash, Florida Highway Patrol said.

A motorcyclist is in critical condition Sunday after she and another motorcyclist struck a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office patrol car while it made a U-turn on State Road 16, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Florida Highway Patrol said the incident happened at 5:09 p.m. near Interstate 95. The patrol vehicle's driver, Deputy Brandon Hetzler, was attempting to make a U-turn on westbound SR-16. 

Both motorcyclists struck the front of the patrol car and were ejected onto the roadway, deputies said. Hetzler immediately stopped his vehicle went to help the victims.

One motorcyclist, 51-year-old Julia Perez, is in critical condition, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The other motorcyclist, 59-year-old Thomas Eiland, is in serious condition.

All eastbound lanes of State Road 16 are blocked near I-95 due to the crash, however, traffic is able to flow eastbound via a westbound lane that has been coned off, FHP said. 

FHP is directing traffic along with St. Johns County deputies, preventing delays.

Bill seeks $15 million for accident victim severely injured in crash with St. Johns deputy

News Service of Florida

Florida lawmakers could take up a proposal that would direct the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to pay $15 million to a woman who was severely injured when her motorcycle was struck by a deputy’s vehicle.

Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, filed the “claim” bill (SB 68) this week seeking compensation for Julia "Jenny" Perez, who was injured in April 2019. The bill said Perez, 53, was unconscious for three months after the accident and “bedridden” for seven months and has long-term effects such as kidney failure.

Perez and her boyfriend were on separate motorcycles when Deputy Brandon Hetzler was responding to a call on Florida 16 and turned left in front of the pair shortly after 5 p.m., according to The St. Augustine Record per the crash report. They were struck and ejected from their motorcycles. They were wearing helmets.

Witnesses told Florida Highway Patrol troopers that Florida 16 traffic had a green signal when the collision occurred and that the deputy's emergency lights and siren were not on at the time, according to the report.

Hetzler was found at fault by the Florida Highway Patrol and a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office review board, according to the bill. He was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

The state’s sovereign-immunity laws typically place strict limits on amounts of money government agencies can be required to pay because of negligence. But legislative claim bills can be filed to direct payments of large amounts.

Under Polsky’s bill, the Sheriff’s Office would pay a $5 million lump sum to Perez and then five annual payments of $2 million. The bill is filed for the 2022 legislative session, which will start Jan. 11.


Anonymous said...

She'll get paid and you'll have pissed and moaned about nothing as usual when there are plenty more legitimate issues in the county to be upset about. If only you could break out of the conservative mindset then perhaps you'd understand what those issues are. Until then, hounding people over petty issues that almost always end up being resolved properly.

Herold Pakman said...

Long live sheriff David Shoar! He served his community with vigor, sincerity, and honor. He worked his ass off and kept the community safe for many years. Cherry picking mistakes is no way to pay respects to hard working public servants. Better time spent criticizing the SJC GOP and the yoyos pulling those strings...who by the way you voted with on taxes. You voted for the tourists and the Ponte Vedra wine bibbers to have the ability to save and hoard more of everyone's money. No public baths in Ed Slavin's conservative city by the sea. No redistribution, no wage increases, just trickle up economics and duty free zone for shit and get tourists.

Anonymous said...

as a former attorney you should know that terms of settlements are always subject to NDAs so there would be no disclosure of all the items you listed. Shame for trying to benefit from the misfortunes of others.

Ed Slavin said...

Florida voters adopted Article I, section 24 of Florida Constitution in 1992 by 83% (3.8 million voters). Public records. You are wrong and insulting. Your "always" evidences ignorance animus. We have a Right to Know. This is our government. You know what James Madison and our other Founders said? Why do you so disdain our Right to Know? Who are you?

Ed Slavin said...

"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." -- James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822 Writings 9:103--9

Anonymous said...

Bless you for shining the light of truth on the dirty dealings of St. John’s County! The have quite a history of unspeakable horrible behavior!