Joshua West, who Pinellas County sheriff's deputies suspect was driving a car that crashed and severed the leg of a Safety Harbor man in April, has been sentenced to 13 months in state prison for violating his probation on drug charges.
"He will go to a reception facility in Orlando for classification to get assigned to a prison in Florida, unless between now and then Pinellas County arrests him," said Assistant State's Attorney Christine Brown.
The sentence, delivered last week in Hillsborough County, may give Pinellas deputies a little breathing room as they continue to investigate the April 20 accident.
West has not been charged, but officials with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office have said they believe West was drinking and driving when he plowed into some mailboxes and a utility pole before striking Andrew Hall.
At issue is proving that West was the driver. Neither West, of Tampa, nor the other person in the car that morning, Douglas Zeigler of Clearwater, has cooperated with authorities, sheriff's officials said.
Hall is still recuperating at Bayfront Medical Center. The 19-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, was severely injured when a Honda Accord traveling at a high rate of speed ran up onto the sidewalk and crashed into him, severing his left leg above the hip, shattering his pelvis and breaking his left arm in six places.
Hall also suffered damage to his right leg. He underwent surgery last week on that leg to repair tendons and a ligament that were cut during the impact.
"He's doing pretty good," said Mary Arana-Andersen, who is like a mother figure to Hall.
Hall, a 2008 graduate of Hudson High School in Pasco County, has undergone several surgeries and still has more to go, Arana-Andersen said.
West, 24, ran from the scene but was found by Pinellas deputies a short distance away. He gave deputies conflicting accounts of the accident.
He was taken to a Tampa hospital and released on April 22. A day later, a warrant was issued, but authorities were unable to find him for three weeks. He was picked up in Pasco County on the warrant in mid May.
Officials with the Sheriff's Office have declined to talk about the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
Allen Arana, 28, who is like a brother to Hall, said West's sentence brought some small measure of relief.
"It doesn't really do anything with our situation," he said, "but it's nice to know that they won't have to track him down again."
Rita Farlow can be reached at (727) 445-4157 or firstname.lastname@example.org.