State won't file charges in Eau Gallie Causeway deaths

Published On: Jan 15 2014 08:33:01 AM EST
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 08:38:47 AM EST

Justin Mitchell.

MELBOURNE, Fla. -

The state attorney’s office doesn’t plan to file criminal charges against a man who hit and killed two people, and injured a third, when he looked at a text message as he drove over the Eau Gallie Causeway.

“At this time, with what we have, we are not filing any criminal charges,” Assistant State Attorney Michael Hunt told Local 6 News partner Florida Today.

Vincent Worbington pleaded no contest to a careless driving infraction in September, five months after he looked down at a text message, swerved off a lane on the Eau Gallie Causeway and hit and killed 25-year-old Justin Mitchell and 24-year-old Garrett Viccaro.

Jeff VanReenen was injured.

Hunt explained that there is no statute for negligent homicide in Florida.

“Though his conduct may have been negligent, that’s not a basis to prosecute someone for a crime.”

The manslaughter statute uses a different standard known as “culpable negligence,” which requires the state to show the action was more than a failure to use ordinary care – it would have to be a grossly careless act, showing reckless disregard.

Hunt attended a meeting with the victims’ families to explain the decision.

Hunt said he thinks texting and driving should be a primary offense in Florida, meaning officers can directly pull over drivers they see texting behind the wheel.

“Texting while driving is inherently dangerous and stupid,” Hunt said.

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