TREASURE ISLAND — A wife and husband crossing Gulf Boulevard on Saturday evening were struck and killed by a driver who fled the scene and who later refused to be tested for alcohol, deputies said.
Beverly J. Gran, 80, and Nicholas Michael DeSanta, 74, were walking across the road about 6:45 p.m., the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sebring couple, who married in 2015, were walking away from the beach near 118th Avenue.
At the same time, Aleem Reezan Temon Hamid, 38, of Land O’Lakes was driving a Ford Explorer on the road.
The vehicle was in the median lane and crashed into the couple, deputies said.
Hamid then drove off, the sheriff’s office said. Treasure Island Police officers found Hamid less than a mile away, on Park Place near 105th Avenue, in the driver’s seat, the sheriff’s office report said. He showed signs of impairment and was uncooperative, officers said.
Paramedics took DeSanta and Gran to a hospital, where they died.
Gran was raised in Bellevue, Ky., her daughter Kimberly O’Brien said, and moved to Florida in 1971. She had worked as a home health nurse in Sebring and was retired.
She loved horses and rode a horse named Prince.
O’Brien said she had seen her mother in Okeechobee for Mother’s Day.
DeSanta was a Vietnam War veteran. He was a tunnel rat who went on underground missions, said Joe Waters of Sebring.
Multiple friends spoke of his generosity. He was quick to volunteer at his local American Veterans post.
"He was a hell of a dude. He’d give you the shirt off his back," said Robert Wilcox, commander of AMVETS Post 21.
"My big brother has always been my hero," said DeSanta’s sister, Mary Peterson.
DeSanta could often be found on the water. He hosted bass fishing tournaments, and his competitors would call him "The Old Man."
"He’s like a machine," said Don Norton of Sebring, a former fishing partner. "He needed to slow down or guys would quit fishing again."
"I was going to call him today just to tell him I went fishing this morning."
Hamid was booked into the Pinellas County Jail after midnight Saturday.
He faces two felony counts of DUI manslaughter, two felony counts of leaving a fatal scene and a charge of refusing a breath, urine or blood test. He was being held in lieu of $200,150 bond.
Hamid has faced legal trouble for driving violations before.
He was arrested in Tampa in 2003 and charged as an habitual offender for driving with a revoked license, state records showed. He pleaded guilty to the charge.
In 2016 Hamid was charged with DUI in Hillsborough County. The charge was later reduced to reckless driving, and Hamid pleaded no contest and was found guilty.
Contact Langston Taylor at (727) 893-8659 or [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor.