SARASOTA — Former Braden River High football coach Josh Hunter surrendered to authorities Thursday on a charge that he was drunk when he crashed his truck in March, killing his best friend, Doug Garrity.
Assistant State Attorney Earl Varn said his office obtained a warrant for Hunter’s arrest at about noon Thursday. Hunter surrendered at 4:30 p.m. and he has since been released from the Sarasota County jail on $25,000 bond.
He is charged with DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Hunter’s attorney, Brett McIntosh, said authorities claim his client’s blood alcohol level was 0.21 after the March 21 crash. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
“Obviously, this is something we anticipated,” McIntosh said. “He’s going to face it. We have quite a bit of work to do on our end. I think there are some significant issues regarding what caused this accident to occur. That’s an important factor in looking at the charge of DUI manslaughter. It’s not just a question of whether someone is drinking or driving a car, it’s more complex than that.”
Hunter was driving his Ford pickup in south Sarasota County when it crashed on an Interstate 75 on-ramp near Nokomis. Garrity, a football assistant coach and Hunter’s best friend, died when he was ejected from a back seat.
No sobriety tests were given at the scene and no arrest was made. But Florida Highway Patrol troopers drew Hunter’s blood and sent it to a lab for drug and alcohol testing.
In April, the toxicology reports came back.
In September, troopers recommended prosecutors file the DUI manslaughter charge against Hunter.
Varn has said his office had been talking with troopers about the case for months prior to that, but that his office had been overwhelmed with other DUI manslaughter investigations.
Further information was not released by officials Thursday night.
A state champion during his playing days at Southeast High School, Hunter was named Braden River’s first head football coach in March 2005.
In April, he resigned from his job.
In August, Hunter resigned his position as a physical education teacher at Braden River High.
McIntosh said his client is holding up.
“He’s doing OK under the circumstances. He’s a strong individual,” he said. “I hope that everybody will recognize that this is a man who has done a lot of good things and has done things the right way for his life.
“I hope people will give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until all the evidence is in before they rush to judgment. I think he’s a person that’s earned that right.”