PORT CHARLOTTE, FL -A Port Charlotte man has been charged with DUI manslaughter after striking and killing a roadside worker Wednesday night on northbound U.S. 41, just north of the Barron Collier Bridge, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.
Christopher Allen Best, 26, had his 6-year-old son in the car with him when his Oldsmobile 88 struck two workmen just before 10 p.m. The workers — Jemel Gardner, 39, of Lehigh Acres, and Mark Andrew Caton, 22, of Punta Gorda — were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers with life-threatening injuries.
Gardner died shortly thereafter, and Caton remained in the surgical section of the Intensive Care Unit Thursday afternoon.
The men — who worked for DBI Services, which is contracted to do road management for the Florida Department of Transportation — were laying traffic cones so they could replace old reflectors on the roadway. A work pickup ahead of them was illuminated, but Best failed to observe the blinking lights, according to the FHP.
Best’s son, Cayden, also received minor injuries, but he was taken to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Best was treated for minor injuries at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte before being arrested. He was held at the Charlotte County Jail without bond on three counts of DUI with damage to property or a person, and one count each of DUI causing serious injury and DUI manslaughter.