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State Lawmaker To Seek Tougher Penalties For Repeat Fatal Crashes In Response To Jax Incidents

The Florida House of Representatives

A state legislator is looking into changing the laws that allowed 67-year-old Michael Fortunato get off with a fine and license suspension for killing a woman and seriously injuring her teenage daughter after striking them in his car at a Jacksonville intersection last September.

Fifty-seven-year-old Esther and 16-year-old Orly Ohayon were using the crosswalk on San Jose Boulevard when the light changed. Police determined Fortunatohad not broken any criminal laws, and issued a number of civil citations instead. Fortunato will pay a $1,200 fine and lose his driver’s license for six months.

State Representative Charles McBurney represents the Mandarin area, where the accident happened. He says constituents have asked him to fix the law, especially since Fortunato hit and killed a 6-year-old girl under similar circumstances in 2009.

“When someone has essentially walked away where two people died then something’s wrong with the process. I would recommend that there be a much more severe penalty for persons who are repeat offenders, even in a civil citation context, where death or serious bodily injury occurs,” McBurney said.

McBurney is a former Assistant State Attorney and a member of the Florida House Judiciary Committee. He says he hopes to have a bill ready to go before the start of next year’s legislative session.

You can follow Cyd Hoskinson on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.