Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plant City police arrest driver they say killed teen in hit-and-run

PLANT CITY — Elated by the New England Patriots' playoff win Sunday night, 16-year-old Brandon Michael Sullivan stepped out of his Plant City house to go to the corner gas station, most likely for a Mountain Dew.

The walk home should have taken 10 minutes. It was less than half a mile on the grassy strip along the curve of Turkey Creek Road, north of State Road 574. But police say it was cut short around 7:40 p.m. by a vehicle that struck Brandon and his friend, 15-year-old Erick Gonzalez.

Brandon died at the scene. Erick was hospitalized with a broken leg.

And the driver fled.

But acting on a tip, police announced late Monday they had located the car that struck the teens and arrested the driver.

The driver, identified as Timoteo Gabriel DeJesus, 23, of Plant City was found around 8 p.m. by a police dog as he hid in a pile of debris, police said.

DeJesus faces charges of leaving the scene of a traffic crash involving death, leaving the scene of a crash involving serious injury and driving without a license resulting in death. He was also being booked on an unrelated warrant on domestic battery.

Plant City police say they found the 1995 Lincoln Town Car he had been driving at the Woodbridge Apartments in Plant City after getting a tip.

From South Florida Baptist Hospital, a family friend of the injured teen, Rosie Cruz, said Erick was alert but in shock. "He's still in pain because of his friend," she said.

At Brandon's home, friends and family gathered with red-rimmed eyes.

Brandon, who was studying culinary arts at Simmons Career Center in Plant City, was on track to graduate next year, his family said.

He cooked at school every Friday, practicing to become a chef. Ever the teenager, his family said Brandon often spent Thursday nights scrambling to gather ingredients.

One Friday morning, the ride to school included an extra passenger: a hunk of tenderloin.

"He didn't mind cooking, but hated cleaning," said Brandon's stepfather, 39-year-old Earl Sizemore.

The youngest of three boys, Brandon went fishing with his brothers and became an ace pool player by age 8. The family's house, where neighborhood kids constantly knocked to find him, includes a converted garage furnished with a pool table.

Brandon called his middle brother "Goofy." His family didn't know why, but Brandon gave his friend Erick the nickname "Banana."

A series of photos on an iPhone revealed a light-hearted teen: Brandon made faces in each frame.

In several of them, Brandon wore a Florida Gators sweat shirt and had his arm slung around his mother.

"If Momma's happy, Brandon's happy," said his mom, 39-year-old Angel Sullivan. "He knew that I would always be there for him. I could tell him everything."

Her grief, she said, went beyond feeling hurt or angry.

She was lost.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writer Marissa Lang contributed to this story.

. facts

How to help

• In lieu of flowers, the family of Brandon Michael Sullivan is asking for donations for a funeral. Donations can be made at any Bank of America under his name.

Plant City police arrest driver they say killed teen in hit-and-run 01/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually incommunicado. …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  2. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget

    K12

    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. [iStockphoto.com]
  3. All Eyes photo gallery: 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 79, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 79 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped. The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it …

    Rescuers work on a collapsed building on Amsterdam Avenue in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, Sept. 19, 2017. Dozens have been reported killed across the country, including 42 in the state of Morelos, close to the epicenter of the quake, and at least 20 buildings in Mexico City have collapsed. (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times) XNYT169
  4. Rays video tribute to ex-manager Joe Maddon upon return with Cubs

    Blogs

    Here is the Rays video tribute to former manager Joe Maddon, who returned to the Trop for the first time on Tuesday with his Cubs team:

  5. After Irma disruption, Miami eager to face Toledo

    College

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Like thousands of other evacuees, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz headed north to escape Hurricane Irma with his family, two suitcases and the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to everything he left behind.

    Miami coach Mark Richt watches during a victory over B-CU in the Sept. 2 opener. The Hurricanes haven’t played since.