JOSH HUNTER TRIAL | Expert: Driver error caused fatal accident

SARASOTA -- The accident in which Doug Garrity was killed in March 2009 was caused by driver error, according to testimony this morning from a traffic accident reconstruction expert.

Prosecutors are attempting to prove at trial this week that the driver was former Braden River High School football coach Josh Hunter, and that he was drunk at the time of the accident on an Interstate 75 on-ramp in south Sarasota County. If Hunter is found guilty of DUI manslaughter, he faces up to 15 years in prison for the death of Garrity, his friend and assistant coach at Braden River.

Testifying for the prosecution, the expert, Gary Stephens, said driver error caused the accident. After reviewing the accident scene and the Florida Highway Patrol's traffic homicide report, Stephens said he found that:

- There was no evidence that the driver had taken evasive action to avoid hitting an animal.

- There was no evidence that the driver had hit the brakes before the accident.

- The driver over-corrected both to the left and to the right, before the pickup truck overturned and went airborne.

Garrity was ejected from the vehicle and later died. Hunter and two other passengers, his brother James and Matt Braselton were not seriously injured.

James Hunter is currently in jail because he has refused to testify about whether his brother was driving at the time of the accident, and Braselton testified Wednesday he does not remember who was driving.

However, a state trooper testified that Braselton told him after the accident that Josh Hunter had been driving.

Authorities said a blood test taken two hours after the accident showed that Josh Hunter had a blood alcohol content of .21, almost three times the legal limit of .08 in Florida.

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