VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A Suncoast football coach is back on the sidelines after spending almost seven years in prison.
Josh Hunter was the driver in a fatal DUI crash in 2010 that killed his best friend and colleague, Douglas Garrity. He was sentenced to prison, even though the victim’s family advocated for no time behind bars.
Hunter is out and back on the field. Before the crash, he was the coach in Braden River. Now he’s the assistant offensive line coach for the Venice High football team.
“There were four men in the vehicle that night, and we felt that all four were equally responsible, and we knew that Douglas loved Josh like a brother. We also knew that it could’ve been Douglas in that situation,” John Garrity, Douglas’ father, explained.
Hunter was driving a pickup truck that flipped while making a turn on State Road 681 in Nokomis.
“It was an accident. It could’ve been avoided, but it was an accident,” Douglas’ mother, Dehlia Garrity, said.
Douglas’ parents forgave Hunter almost immediately. Even after he was sentenced, they pleaded with the Clemency Board in Tallahassee, asking the board to reduce Hunter''s sentence. Because of that, he was released three years early and is now back to coaching football.
“I know that there’s going to be people on both sides of the fence about me being back. And I understand both sides, but I want to be here and make a difference and not just as football players, but people as well,” Hunter told us.
The football team’s head coach says he knows these students are going to learn so much from Hunter on and off the field.
“He’s a very, very good football coach, and a good person. We’re just blessed to have him on our staff, and work with these kids day in and day out,” said John Peacock, the Head Coach for the Venice High football team.
Hunter will not only have the chance to impact these athletes’ lives, but will be back in the classroom as well, talking to Venice High students about the crash, hoping he can prevent them from making the same mistake.
“Just like we have had the last 10 years to work through it, and still are, he’s now going to have the chance to get through it and live his life knowing that he gets to make the lives of other people better now,” Dehlia Garrity expressed.
Hunter will be on the sidelines for his first game back this Friday at Venice High against IMG Academy, and the Garritys say they’ll be there cheering him on in memory of Douglas.