Friday, November 17, 2017
News Roundup

Driver with epilepsy sentenced to nine years in prison for probation violation


TAMPA — He drove even though a doctor told him not to, and in 2002, Emilio Santacruz had a seizure on West Shore Boulevard. He crashed into a realty office and killed a woman.

He could have gone to prison for 15 years. Instead, a judge revoked Santacruz's license for 15 years and sent him home with strict instructions not to drive.

On Wednesday, the same judge sentenced Santacruz to nine years in prison for doing just that — driving.

The violation of probation was uncovered during a Tampa Bay Times investigation of drivers with epilepsy, spurred by the October crash involving Eric McNeil, which killed Nancy and Webster Farnsworth.

McNeil passed out at the wheel before hitting the Farnsworths' van, Tampa police say. He has not been charged.

Driving records indicated Santacruz was living in Miami and had a valid license, which he obtained in 2008.

Perhaps because he used the last name "Santacruz Galdo," state officials didn't notice. He even drove to a probation meeting.

Santacruz admitted Wednesday to getting the license. It was a "mistake," he said through tears, but he did it for his daughter and his wife. He needed to work.

He said he wouldn't do it again. He said he'd do anything the judge asked.

He just wanted to go home to his daughter, his wife and their 6-month-old girl.

"Please, I'm asking you to trust in me for the last time," he said in Spanish, through a translator.

But Circuit Judge Daniel Perry said he couldn't. What if Santacruz got behind the wheel again, had a seizure and killed another person, the judge asked.

"I wouldn't want to explain to someone else's family why I trusted your word," he said.

The family of Angie Talty still feels the pain.

The son and the companion of 79-year-old Talty, who died when Santacruz crashed into the realty office, spoke in court.

Jack Beloate called Talty his "soulmate." He told the judge he's afraid Santacruz could hurt more people if he drives.

Talty's son, Tom Talty, said that's the most important factor to consider. "Is he going to decide again to risk the lives of others?" Talty asked.

Though family members wanted a tougher sentence in 2004, they weren't happy about the nine-year sentence Wednesday. Talty said he feels sad for Santacruz's family.

Why didn't he take the bus to work, Talty asked. Why didn't his wife drive him?

"When you drive 4,000 pounds of steel down the road, you need to be careful," he said. "You need to take other people into consideration."

He paused, adding: "I hope he doesn't kill another person."

Judge Perry wasn't going to take that risk.

In addition to sentencing Santacruz to nine years in prison, he also permanently revoked his license.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.


Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

MELBOURNE — With 1 yard separating Plant from an incredible come-from-behind victory, or a devastating defeat, it all came down to a matter of trust.And for Panthers coach Robert Weiner, there was no one he would put more faith in to get that 1 yard ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

SEFFNER — Hillsborough conquered one nemesis with last week’s win over Class 6A defending state finalist Lake Gibson, the team that knocked the Terriers out of the playoffs in the first round a year ago.But there was an even bigger stumbling block to...
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Region football: Ocala Vanguard 35, Mitchell 31

NEW PORT RICHEY — The start wasn’t quite befitting of a playoff game between undefeated teams, but the end of Friday’s war between Ocala Vanguard and Mitchell certainly was.Like last year’s Class 6A regional semifinal, the Mustangs held a three-point...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., does not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

ZEPHYRHILLS — For Zephyrhills, Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal against Green Cove Springs Clay was doomed by 12 bad minutes. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime but allowed 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and were not able ...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood came into Friday’s playoff game knowing its defense had to help control field position against Jesuit. The Spartans (9-1) left Friday’s game with a ticket to Immokalee for a region final — and six Tigers (6-5) turnovers en r...
Updated: 25 minutes ago

Region football: Tampa Bay Tech 42, Palmetto 26

TAMPA — Another Friday night, another offensive explosion.Tampa Bay Tech’s offense continued its torrid pace and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. accounted for five total touchdowns as the Titans rolled past Palmetto 42-26 in a Class 7A, Region 3 semifi...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

Region football: Cambridge Christian 50, Indian Rocks Christian 14

TAMPA — The Cambridge Christian offense was clicking, and quarterback Jaylin Jackson couldn’t seem to be stopped. Still, as the second quarter clock dwindled, Indian Rocks Christian was hanging around.So with just more than a minute left in the half,...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Naples 24, Largo 0

NAPLES — In a game between two teams that had never met with a lot on the line, the Naples defense came up with one of its best efforts against Largo on Friday night.The Golden Eagles limited the Packers to 117 yards of offense in a 24-0 triumph in t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Nov. 17, midday:15 614 9359e_SRit97440Fri., Nov. 17, evening:48 386 1619e_SRit48264Fantasy 5Fri., Nov. 17...
Updated: 1 hour ago