Hillsborough Deputy Suspended After Hit and Run Crashes, Officials Say
He was fleeing a crash in Largo when he was involved in a second crash that he also tried to run away from, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
PINELLAS COUNTY – A Hillsborough sheriff’s deputy was suspended without pay Monday (Oct. 30) after he fled from two traffic crashes, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
A St. Petersburg man was seriously injured in one of the crashes, the FHP said. Jonathan Specht, 40, of St. Petersburg, was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with serious injuries. The deputy, James Gerard Paes, 39, of Lithia, was also taken to Bayfront with minor injuries. He was arrested after being released from the hospital.
Paes was charged with one count each of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage, and obtaining property in return for a worthless check, according to records at the Pinellas County Jail. Troopers said the charges related to the crash are for both a crash in Largo that police there investigated and the later crash that the FHP investigated. Troopers said they also cited him for careless driving.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office issued this statement about Paes: “The incident involving off-duty Deputy James Paes while in Pinellas County in his personal vehicle has resulted in his immediate suspension without pay pending termination.”
Troopers said Paes was driving a 2017 Nissan Titan at a high rate of speed south on 131st Street N approaching 102nd Avenue N about 9 p.m. Monday. He was fleeing a previous crash that was being investigated by the Largo Police Department.
Paes lost control of the Nissan as he overtook a 1998 Dodge Durango driven by John Dietrich, 27, of Seminole. The left front of the Nissan hit the left rear of the Dodge. After that impact, the Nissan continued traveling south for a short distance until it hit the rear of a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado that Specht was driving.
The Chevrolet left the road and overturned on the west shoulder of the road. The Nissan traveled to the east shoulder and collided with a fence at 10206 130th Way N.
After that collision, Paes fled on foot and was caught by Largo police, the FHP said.
For information about the Florida Highway Patrol, go to flhsmv.gov.
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