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1 child dead, another seriously injured in Tampa DUI crash, deputies say

Kolby Lassiter, 24, was arrested Friday after he was driving a vehicle while he had a blood alcohol content more than double the legal limit, deputies say.
Kolby Justin Lassiter, 24, of Plant City was arrested Friday in Hillsborough County on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child, DUI manslaughter, DUI resulting in serious bodily injury and DUI resulting in property damage.
Kolby Justin Lassiter, 24, of Plant City was arrested Friday in Hillsborough County on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child, DUI manslaughter, DUI resulting in serious bodily injury and DUI resulting in property damage. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Sep. 20|Updated Sep. 20

TAMPA — A 24-year-old Plant City man is facing multiple charges after deputies say he drove under the influence of alcohol with two unrestrained children, ultimately crashing and killing one child and severely injuring the other.

Hillsborough jail records show Kolby Lassiter, 24, was arrested Friday at his home on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child, DUI manslaughter, DUI resulting in serious bodily injury and DUI resulting in property damage.

According to an arrest affidavit, Lassiter was driving a Ford F-250 before 10 p.m. on Sept. 13 with two young children in the vehicle. Neither Lassiter nor the children wore any kind of seatbelt or child restraint. The affidavit did not name the two children involved in the crash.

A witness told Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies she heard the truck’s engine revving, then heard the squeal of tires and a crashing noise. She ran outside and heard crying, the affidavit said.

She told deputies she found Lassiter on his knees and later would discover that two kids had been thrown from the truck.

The affidavit laid out the events of the crash:

Lassiter was driving east on Joe McIntosh Road in Tampa when he swerved off the road. The truck traveled onto a grassy shoulder, struck a wooden fence on the truck’s passenger side, rolled over at least once and then continued through the fence on the east side of a property and finally stopped, right-side up, in a gravel driveway.

The witness told deputies she saw one of the children on the ground near the driver’s side door. Lassiter crawled toward the child, the witness said. She told deputies Lassiter seemed disoriented.

The witness said Lassiter called the child by two different names, and that was when she looked for a second child. She found the other child facedown on the ground in the fenced area. She said she called 911 and performed CPR on the child until first responders arrived.

One child died at the scene, the affidavit said. The other child was flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where they underwent emergency surgery and were listed in critical condition, the affidavit said. The child had lacerations to their liver and a kidney, a broken femur and pelvis, and multiple cuts and abrasions.

Lassiter was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with broken bones, a scapula fracture and a spinal fracture, the affidavit said.

According to the witness, Lassiter was disoriented and “out of sorts.” She told deputies she could smell alcohol, but she didn’t know where the smell originated from, the affidavit said.

Lassiter later admitted to deputies he had two shots of whiskey when he got off work around 3 p.m. that day, the affidavit said. He told deputies he was driving the truck and one child was sitting on his lap, while the other child was in the rear passenger seat.

According to the affidavit, Lassiter told deputies the child was strapped in, but that the child probably undid their buckle. Neither child was in a car seat, deputies said.

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According to Lassiter, one of the children stood up, hit the gas pedal with their foot “and caused the truck to go out of control.”

According to a detective, Lassiter had glassy, bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. Deputies got a search warrant for Lassiter’s medical records and found his blood alcohol level was measured at .169, well above the legal limit of 0.08.

According to court records, Lassiter has no other convictions related to driving under the influence.

Lassiter did not have a lawyer assigned to his case as of Tuesday. A phone number matching Lassiter’s name and address was not in service Tuesday.

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