SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Nearly a year after a hit-and-run crash in Sarasota that sent a teenager to the hospital with brain trauma, the driver is going to prison.
As part of a plea deal, Zachari Brock, 25, of Bradenton was sentenced on Friday, January 31 to five years in prison on charges of leaving the scene of a crash and driving without a valid license. Both felony charges.
Troopers searched for Brock for days after the crash on Thursday, February 28, 2019 which shows a car flipping multiple times in a Sarasota hotel’s parking lot following a collision.
It happened around 7:45am outside the Lantern Inn & Suites at U.S. 41 and Pearl Avenue in Sarasota. Video from Jim Gill shows a 2003 Kia Sedona stopped facing south on U.S. 41, waiting to turn left into a gas station, before it turns in front of a 2018 Audi A3 heading north.
The driver of the car, Jackson Kelley of Bradenton, who was 19 at the time, attempts to swerve from the van’s path, but the van continues into the far right lane, colliding with the left rear of the Audi, which overturns and flips several times in the Lantern Inn & Suites parking lot.
The Audi hit a parked vehicle, pushing it into a second parked vehicle, before hitting a concrete wall and coming to a rest on its roof.
Kelley suffered critical injuries and was taken to the hospital. No one at the hotel was injured.
“His vitals are okay. He had quite severe brain trauma. They’re sustaining him and watching him and continuing to monitor him at this point,” said Michael Kelley, Jackson Kelley’s father, at the time of the crash.
Kelley attended Lakewood Ranch High School, where he played basketball, and is currently a student at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
“He was on his way to class when somebody who couldn’t man up and stop saw that horrible accident. Someone in the community knows what happened to him. Somebody needs to do the right thing and turn that person in because not only has he impacted me and my child and my family, but there’s so many people in this community that know Jack and my family and love him,” said Kelley.
Brock was driving a Kia Sedona and fled the scene traveling north on U.S. 41.
On Friday, March 1, Florida Highway Patrol impounded the van involved in the crash but did not make any arrests in the case until Saturday, March 2 when Brock was taken into the custody.
Though he showed remorse while speaking to news outlets after he was released on bond, Brock added that the crash could have been avoided if Kelley wasn’t driving so fast. He admitted that he never should have been driving in the first place because he doesn’t have a license.
“For the second time in this 24-year-old’s life, he’s not manning up," said Michael Kelley after hearing what Brock had to say about the accident that could’ve killed his son. “[Brock] didn’t take any responsibility when he hit [Jackson] and saw the accident and drove away. Now he’s more or less taking the blame off himself.”
Jackson Kelley spent weeks in the ICU.
“This is gonna be a really long haul," his father explained. "Traumatic brain injury is a big deal. It’s not, you go get operated on and then you’re in a recovery room, it’s a long, long term process. So his life has been changed forever and so has his family’s.”
But Jackson Kelley fought hard and made huge strides. In May, months after the crash, his father posted a video to Facebook showing Jackson walking on Belleair Beach: