Crash victim says he sympathizes with man convicted of leaving the scene

Sentencing in Sarasota Crash

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Florida teenager who survived a tragic crash in Sarasota last February says he’s sympathetic of the man sentenced in the accident.

Jackson Kelley was 19 at the time of the accident on February 28. He was commuting to school on north Tamiami Trail when the minivan Zachari Brock was driving crashed into him, causing his car to flip multiple times into the Lantern Inn parking lot.

Brock drove away from the scene of the crash and Kelley was taken to the hospital where he was fighting for his life.

Kelley suffered a brain injury. He says he was in a coma for 18 days and had to re-learn how to walk and talk.

Nearly a year after the crash, Brock accepted a plea agreement. He was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident with a serious bodily injury and not having a driver’s license. His trial was scheduled to begin on Monday but Friday he took the plea agreement.

A judge sentenced Brock to five years in prison and five years of probation.

Kelley says he doesn’t forgive Brock.

“Not forgiving of the running part. But sympathetic. He’s a human being in the end,” said Kelley Monday afternoon.

He says his family and others wanted Brock to go away for a long time but Kelley didn’t. Kelley says although they could’ve pushed for a maximum sentencing of 20 years, it’s not what he wanted.

He didn’t exchange many words with Brock but says during the plea agreement hearing he did.

“Brock turned to me and whispered that he wished the best for me and his family,” said Kelley.

Kelley says he’s back at school. He says he’s still on the road to recovery from his brain injury and he’s just living in the moment.

The prosecutor on the case, Brice Van Elswyk says there was overwhelming evidence between multiple witnesses and surveillance video of the crash.

“I don’t think he [Brock] was concerned to appeal,” said Van Elswyk.

He says an appeal hasn’t been filed and his understanding is that Brock won’t be.

Van Elswyk says they want to make sure this sends a message to people that you can’t leave the scene of a crash.

“A crash like that we need to make sure that if you [suspects] don’t pull over, we’re coming after that aggressively,” said Van Elswyk.

He say Kelley is fortunate to be alive after an accident of that magnitude.