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Hillsborough deputy suspended after charged with hit and run crash

A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy was suspended Monday after he was arrested in connection with hit-and-run incidents in Pinellas County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which left one person seriously injured.

Deputy James Gerard Paes, 39, of Lithia was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage and paying for property with a worthless check, according to Pinellas County jail records. Troopers are also considering adding a charge of driving under the influence. Paes was suspended without pay by the Sheriff's Office.

The incident started around 9 p.m. Sunday. The FHP said Paes was off-duty when he fled a crash that Largo police were investigating. Then he lost control of his 2017 Nissan Titan on 131st Street N, the FHP said, and smashed into the back of a 1998 Dodge Durango.

The driver and two passengers inside the Durango were not seriously injured, troopers said. Moments later, the FHP said Paes' truck hit a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, causing it to overturn in the shoulder of the road. The Silverado driver, Jonathan Specht, 40, of St. Petersburg was seriously hurt and was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for treatment.

Paes then crashed into a fence and ran from his truck, the FHP said. He was captured and taken to Bayfront Health himself with minor injuries, then taken to jail.

There was no information available Monday about the worthless check charge. Paes was freed Monday afternoon after posting $6,050 bail. He could not be reached for comment.

Contact Jonathan Capriel at jcapriel@tampabay.com. Follow @jonathancapriel.

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