Two images of Josh Hunter.
One is from 2003 when he was weightlifting coach at Lakewood Ranch High School, which was hosting the state meet.
Immediately after a title-clinching lift, a Mustang athlete embraced Hunter in a cloud of chalk dust.
His black shirt was splotched with white handprints.
A happy moment for a beloved young coach.
The other picture, a disconsolate Hunter being hugged by fellow mourners outside Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church last March.
It was after the funeral of Doug Garrity, his assistant coach, a brother to the Braden River High football coach.
Garrity died the weekend before in a single-vehicle crash near Nokomis.
Hunter was the driver.
He resigned as football coach in April.
He resigned as a teacher in August.
Earlier this month, a DUI manslaughter charge was handed over by the Florida Highway Patrol to the Sarasota state attorney’s office.
Who knows how this will play out in the legal system?
If prosecuted and convicted, Hunter faces up to 15 years in prison.
His attorney said Hunter is prepared to deal with the legal consequences for his actions.
Drinking and driving is a serious offense and has caused unfathomable pain to so many.
There are people who probably want to see Hunter crucified.
Garrity’s parents are not among them.
Hunter is like another son.
Their compassion and forgiveness amidst the heartbreak of this tragedy is a testament to the majesty of the spirit.
Hunter’s lapse in judgment is a grave lesson in life.
Kids looked up to him.
Parents put their trust in him.
My question is: What happens after justice is done?
Hunter was a mentor, a program builder, a good man who made a mistake.
A mistake for which he has been paying dearly.
Time will tell whether Hunter is able to contribute once more to the community where he was raised in a way that befits his strengths.
I sincerely hope so.
Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix,is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification.