OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Citations will be issued to an Osceola County Sheriff's Office deputy who caused a chain-reaction crash that killed a 34-year-old man in October, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Deputy Gloria Boccio will be ticketed for careless driving and failure to wear a seat belt, troopers said.
Troopers said Boccio was driving a marked Dodge Charger patrol car around 8 a.m. Oct. 5 eastbound on U.S. 192 when, for an unknown reason, she failed to slow down to accommodate for traffic stopped at a red light.
Boccio's car slammed into the back of a Ford pickup truck driven by Robert Johnston, the report said. The force of the crash pushed Johnston's truck into a Dodge Van, which then hit a Ford Focus, according to authorities.
Johnston died at an area hospital. His family received $200,000 from the county in January as part of a settlement.
Boccio was not injured. She claimed in a call to the Sheriff's Office after the crash that her brakes malfunctioned, but an FHP inspection showed her bracks were working at the time of the crash.
According to the report, Boccio applied her brakes at the very last second bringing her speed down from 53 mph to 49 mph five seconds before hitting the victim's truck.
Investigators were unable to determine if Boccio was distracted behind the wheel because she refused to provide a statement and to turn over her personall cellphone, according to the 171-page report.
However, the Sheriff's Office turned over data to FHP investigators from her work phone and laptop, neither of those items indicated she was distracted at the time of the crash.
After the crash, Boccio was placed on paid administrative leave.
In November, she was reassigned to a role that does not require her to drive a patrol vehicle after authorities said she caused a second crash. In that instance, troopers said Boccio was driving on State Road 417 on Nov. 6 when she failed to slow down and had to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of her, which then caused a crash between the patrol vehicle and a truck in another lane.
A Mini Cooper and a Volkswagen were also involved.
No one was injured. Boccio was ticketed for an improper lane change.
Troopers said Tuesday that the investigation into the fatal crash has concluded and they do not expect any charges to be filed.
Under Florida law, Boccio could have her license suspended for six months and be required to pay a fine.
A spokesperson from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said the department has received FHP's report and is continuing its investigation.
"Because this is an active internal investigation no additional information is available at this time," a public information officer said.
Johnston's family asked News 6 why Boccio wasn't charged with a crime.
We brought that question to News 6 legal analyst Steve Kramer, who said, "Really, there’s a heightened standard, and that’s got to involve either driving more in line with reckless driving or conduct that is a totally wanton disregard for human life and human safety."
He said it appears FHP investigators didn't feel the crash rose to those situations.
Brian Johnston, the victim's brother, sent a statement to News 6.
It read in part, "Every citizen of this state should be horrified by the decision not to press any legitimate, deserved charges against this “deputy.”
These same citizens should be terrified for their own personal safety because this sends a loud and clear message to every police officer that they can act without regard for the the lives they are sworn to serve and protect. "