Jacob Gordon of Palm Beach County, Florida was arrested on August 21 and is facing DUI manslaughter charges for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident that killed the son of a Palm Beach County police deputy.
Gordon, 21, is being charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash, trespassing, and driving without a license. It is unclear if he has hired an attorney.
According to the police report, the accident occurred on Monday at the intersection of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and 74th Street North in Loxahatchee. Gordon was reportedly driving a 2016 Honda when he rear-ended a 1992 Buick driven by Jason Laux, 24. He did not stop to administer aid or call for help.
Gordon was arrested a few hours later. The deputies who took him into custody said he smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. They also found a cup that smelled of rum at the scene of the crash, the report said. Gordon reportedly asked a sheriff’s deputy about the condition of the other driver and was shocked when he learned Laux had died.
In addition to the DUI manslaughter charge, Gordon is also accused of trespassing for allegedly hiding inside a stranger’s garage after the crash, police said.
“I heard the dogs barking and when I opened the door to shut the garage door, he was kind of crouched down here,” the homeowner, Michell Csajka, told the press. “I thought he was sitting on a bench over here this way he kind of looked at me but all the way down. When I screamed he stood up and looked at me.”
Gordon ran when Csajka started screaming and was eventually found hiding under a car at a nearby home by police. Csajka was shaken by the incident. She told news sources that she recognized Laux from the neighborhood Publix where he worked.
“It’s heartbreaking as a parent to see this child and what the parents are going through,” she said. “He was always a nice kid. Always smiled, always asked are you finding everything OK. Just a nice young man.”
According to a recent report from the Florida Highway Patrol, the number of hit-and-run accidents in the state has steadily gone up over the past five years. The numbers went up from 72,000 in 2012 to just over 99,000 in 2016. Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade, and Broward continue to have the highest incidences of hit-and-runs in the state.
“I know hit-and-runs continue to be a problem,” Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Wysocky told news sources. “Unfortunately they continue to go up from previous years.”
The agency launched a Stay At The Scene campaign earlier this year in an effort to encourage drivers to remain at the scene of the accident, but it is still too early to tell if the campaign was effective. Drivers leave the scene for many reasons; sometimes it’s because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or they are driving with a suspended license, or they may not have insurance. In many cases, the driver is not at fault and would face very few penalties if they stayed at the scene.