Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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

Emilio Santacruz stands beside his defense attorney Lyann Goudie, left, during his sentencing hearing in which he entered a guilty plea on a charge of violating his probation on Wednesday. Santacruz was sentenced to nine years in prison.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Emilio Santacruz stands beside his defense attorney Lyann Goudie, left, during his sentencing hearing in which he entered a guilty plea on a charge of violating his probation on Wednesday. Santacruz was sentenced to nine years in prison.

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 jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Driver with epilepsy sentenced to nine years in prison for probation violation 01/25/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  3. Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in sexting case

    National

    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.

    Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing in a sexting scandal, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  5. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blogs

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.