Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Brandon father killed when red-light runner suspected of drinking hits his car

BRANDON — Dontae Hill had two loves: music and family.

The 25-year-old Armwood High School graduate, known as Big Don, took great pride in his rapping skills, recording his own songs and posting videos on YouTube. And he doted on his 1-year-old son, "Little Don," while looking forward to another child who is on the way.

"When he was little I used to always have him with me, take him to the park, take him shopping and let him get whatever he wanted, and that's what he was doing with his son," said Dontae Hill's father, Keith Hill.

Early Wednesday, Dontae Hill was killed in a crash at E Adamo Drive and Falkenburg Road that was so violent it split his Acura in half and closed the busy intersection for about eight hours. Investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol believe the man who slammed into Hill, 28-year-old Johnathan Honza, was driving under the influence.

Troopers saw signs of impairment and smelled alcohol on Honza, said spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

"If he wasn't sitting in the hospital, he'd be in jail right now," Gaskins said.

Hill was heading south on Falkenburg about 3:23 a.m. in a 2005 Acura TSX and entered the intersection to turn left onto Adamo, according to the highway patrol. Honza was driving a 2016 Chevrolet SS west in the center lane, ran a red light and slammed into the driver side of the Acura, troopers said.

The force of the collision sheared the Acura and threw debris that struck a Chevrolet sedan stopped at the red light on Adamo. None of the five occupants of that car were injured.

Hill died at Tampa General Hospital, where he was born. Honza, of Brandon, was treated in the same hospital for serious injuries.

Troopers drew blood from Honza and were awaiting results Wednesday, Gaskins said.

Records show Honza has a Florida identification card but no Florida driver's license. It was unclear Wednesday if he had a valid driver's license from another state or was driving illegally.

Honza has faced accusations of DUI before.

According to a Hillsborough Sheriff's Office arrest report, Honza drove onto a curb near the intersection of U.S. 301 and Gibsonton Drive about 4 a.m. one night in November 2013 and got stuck. A deputy wrote that Honza had slurred speech and watery eyes and refused to perform field sobriety exercises or provide a blood sample.

The charge was reduced to reckless driving and Honza was sentenced to probation, court records show.

Honza has been arrested on DUI charges twice in Springfield, Oregon — one in July 2008 and another in May 2009, Springfield Police said. Because Honza didn't attend either of those court hearings there are two active warrants for his arrest in Springfield, as well as a third for a minor in possession of alcohol charge from the July 2008 arrest.

Angie Martin, a manager at the McDonald's restaurant on the southwest corner of the intersection, arrived for her shift at 4 a.m. Wednesday to find the usually busy intersection already closed.

"There were a whole lot of lights and half a car sitting in the grass out front," Martin said.

The intersection reopened about noon.

Keith Hill, Dontae's father, was getting ready for work when a trooper called to say his son had been injured and was in the hospital. He didn't think it was serious at first but then he got calls from other family members. He pulled up a news report on the crash and recognized his son's car in pieces.

By the time he arrived at the hospital, Dontae was gone. He still had a breathing tube in his mouth when hospital staff escorted Keith Hill and Dontae Hill's mother inside to confirm he was their son.

Dontae Hill lived in the Brandon area with his girlfriend and their son and worked in construction, Keith Hill said. The couple was expecting another child in about three weeks. The elder Hill figures his son was on his way home at the time of the crash but didn't know where he was coming from.

He also didn't know troopers suspected Honza was drinking.

"If he was under the influence," Hill said, "why couldn't he have called Uber or someone to take him home so this incident never would have never taken place?"

Times senior news researcher John Martin and staff writer Anastasia Dawson contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

   
Comments
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Published: 06/22/18
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Published: 06/22/18
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Published: 06/22/18
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Published: 06/22/18
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Published: 06/22/18
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyr-hills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he did ...
Published: 06/21/18
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. To his friends and coworkers at the Salvation Army, he was a great athlete, a...
Published: 06/21/18