TAMPA — Wynand “Henk” Kruining loved Milwaukee power tools, barbecue and his wife.
But above all else, the 56-year-old Tampa man was focused on getting his three kids to succeed in school and go on to college.
The next step in that campaign comes in May, when oldest daughter Dalena is scheduled to graduate from the School of the Arts at Blake High School.
But her father will not be there. Kruining was struck by a driver and killed about an hour after sunset Feb. 1 as he was walking his Labrador across West Broad Street near North Hale Avenue, just west of Dale Mabry Highway and close to his home in the Egypt Lake neighborhood.
The man who hit him, Oscar Gonzalez, was driving a 2015 Genesis between 48 mph and 53 mph, said a search warrant affidavit filed Feb. 14 by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office. That’s about double the posted speed limit for the area. Gonzalez, 23, also lives in the neighborhood.
For Kruining’s family, the tragedy was followed by 43 days of agony before an arrest was made. Contacted by deputies, Gonzalez turned himself in at the Hillsborough County Jail and was booked on a charge of vehicular homicide. He was released early Wednesday after posting bail of $7,500.
In all that time, Gonzalez was going about his business in the neighborhood. Like Kruining, he lives within a quarter-mile of the crash site.
“We’re trying to be patient but we can only wait so long,” Kruining’s sister, Suzanne Gerstner of Brandon, said earlier this week. “The guy who murdered him is still walking the same streets his kids live on.”
The arrest, Gerstner said later, is “a relief only in a small measure because this should have happened over a month ago. The Sheriff’s Office had all the evidence it needed. Why did our family have to wait for justice and suffer in meantime?”
On Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office said only that a criminal investigation continues in the case. Authorities alerted Gerstner that Gonzalez would be turning himself in.
Contacted at his home Tuesday before his arrest, Gonzalez said he had no comment on the crash.
Surveillance video from a nearby home was used to determine Gonzalez’s speed. The video showed him traveling nearly 40 yards after the impact before coming to a stop. The impact threw Kruining nearly 15 yards.
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“There is a clear video showing what happened,” Gerstner said. “How often do deputies in Florida get that in a residential neighborhood?”
Gerstner got a copy of the video from neighbors. It shows her brother was just steps away from reaching a sidewalk ramp and safety when he was hit. But Gonzalez was driving so fast, she said, Kruining had no chance of getting out of the way. Gonzalez never swerved, she said. Kruining only had time to let go of the dog’s leash.
“There was just no chance for him,” Gerstner said. “He was just plowed the hell over while walking his dog.”
Kruining may have been slowed in his response by a back injury he sustained when he was working as an electrician in Largo, his sister said.
The crash has devastated Kruining’s family, financially and emotionally, Gerstner said. Because of the back injury, she said, he couldn’t get affordable life insurance. His wife, Phuong “Stephanie” Kruining, hasn’t returned to work yet. A GoFundMe account in the Kruining name has raised $5,000.
The dog, Kona, wasn’t hurt in the crash and now lives with Gerstner. Phuong Kruining is afraid to let her children near the road to walk Kona, Gerstner said.
Instead of contacting 911 immediately the night of the crash, and before checking on Kruining, Gonzalez called his mother, father, and girlfriend, the affidavit said. First responders took Kruining to a hospital, where he later died. As of Wednesday morning, he was one of 18 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in Hillsborough County during 2022, according to law enforcement data.
Gonzalez allowed deputies to go through his phone the night of the crash to verify he hadn’t been using it at the time, the affidavit said. He told investigators he had been on his way to the gym.
He refused to let deputies search his car so they obtained a search warrant. They noted that the tint on his windshield was darker than the law allows.
The area of the crash is poorly lit, the affidavit said. Neighbors say West Broad Street is dangerous for pedestrians, Gerstner said, and she hopes her brother’s death spurs safety improvements for the working-class neighborhood. She compared the area’s status to a wealthier part of town.
“If these crashes were happening on Bayshore Boulevard, it would be all that the news talked about, and changes would be made,” Gerstner said. “The same should apply here, regardless of whether it’s a posh neighborhood or not.”
Gerstner said she’ll miss her brother, whom she called an “honorary Home Depot employee” for his ever-present smile and the plethora of tools he owned.
“Henk was a kind and generous soul who would help anyone in need,” she said. “This whole family is still lost without him.”