73ºF

12-year-old boy waiting at Lake County bus stop dragged by hit-and-run driver, deputies say

Suspects accused of tossing bag of firearms into lake prior to arrest

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A 12-year-old boy waiting for the school bus in Lake County was seriously injured Tuesday after authorities say a driver hit the victim and then fled the scene.

The boy was hit around 7:40 a.m. on Thomas Boat Landing Road in Umatilla after the driver of a Chevy Malibu ran a stop sign and drove into the grassy shoulder where the boy was standing waiting for the bus, according to the Florida Highway Patrol crash report. The 12-year-old was dragged by the car for a short distance, troopers said.

“The first couple hours were the worst,” said Ian Martin, the father of the 12-year-old victim, Preston Sandoval. “I was told there was a deep laceration on his head, on his spine, and his leg was pretty banged up. When I got to the hospital, they found out his hip was dislocated — popped out of its socket.”

He said his son underwent surgery on Tuesday at Arnold Palmer Medical Center, where he is recovering in the intensive care unit.

A school bus driver witnessed the crash and was able to provide a vehicle description to authorities, deputies said.

The vehicle involved in the crash was found abandoned on Fishermans Road, deputies said. A short time later, Lake County K-9s tracked the suspects to an RV off County Road 42 in Paisley.

A K-9 named Zeus alerted deputies to the RV and three people came out of the RV, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Lake County Sheriff's Office K-9 Zeus helped track two suspects involved in a hit-and-run crash.
Lake County Sheriff's Office K-9 Zeus helped track two suspects involved in a hit-and-run crash. (WKMG 2020)

Christian Ames Messick, 19, of Leesburg, and Keano Taclay, 24, of Eustis were arrested and charged with burglary and false imprisonment with additional charges pending for firearms.

A female who was also in the RV was being held against her will by the suspects, deputies said. She also led deputies to a bag of firearms the suspects threw into a nearby lake before they were arrested, authorities said.

She said she urged Messick to pull over after the crash but he refused and hit her phone from her hand when she tried to call 911, according to the affidavit.

The Sheriff’s Office shared a photo on Facebook showing a duffel bag of firearms including several pistols, a handgun and more.

A bag of firearms collected from a lake in Lake County. (Image; LCSO)
A bag of firearms collected from a lake in Lake County. (Image; LCSO) (WKMG 2020)

Messick, who is accused of driving the car involved in the crash, is charged with leaving the scene of the crash involving a serious injury and driving without a license. More charges are pending, according to the FHP.

Martin said he’s not focusing on the people arrested; he said he’s focusing on his son’s recovery.

“He’s a strong little boy,” he said. “Hopefully, he’ll be home soon.”

Mariano Keano Taclay, 24, of Eustis.
Mariano Keano Taclay, 24, of Eustis. (WKMG 2020)

On Wednesday, Taclay appeared before a judge. He was granted $25,000 bond.

Messick did not appear in court but a judge set his bond at $125,000.


About the Author: