Late on January 28, 2023, a crowd gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida. They were there to watch illegal street racing, but the night ended in tragedy when a 13-year-old boy was struck during one of the races and killed.
Now, his father and two others are facing criminal charges. Why are the three men to blame, and what consequences do they face?
A Terrible Accident
In the crowd gathered at 28th Street North near 110th Avenue North in St. Petersburg, Florida, were Johnny Julio Martin, 35, and his son Ethan Martin, 13.
At some point during the night, Johnny Martin crossed the street where the racing was taking place. His son was behind him and attempted to cross the street to meet his father. Ethan Martin was then hit by a motorcyclist who was going over 100 mph, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
Multiple videos caught the accident and the immediate aftermath, which shows Johnny Marin holding his son and screaming. The boy died from his injuries.
It was a preventable tragedy. So, who is responsible, and who will face the consequences?
Boy’s Father Arrested on Child Neglect Criminal Charges
Roughly two weeks after the accident, the boy’s father, Johnny Martin, was arrested.
Johnny Martin was charged with child neglect and cited for being a spectator at a street race.
Child neglect, defined under Florida Statute 827.03, is a serious charge. When neglect leads to serious bodily harm, as it did in this case, the charge is a second-degree felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison or 15 years probation and a $10,000 fine. Conviction of a child neglect charge can also impact other parental rights.
Per the St. Petersburg Police Department, Martin was charged with child neglect because he took his son to an illegal event that resulted in his death.
Martin faces serious charges, but he is not the only person facing the consequences from the accident.
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The Driver and The Owner of Motorcycle Arrested on Criminal Charges
A week after Johnny Martin’s arrest, two others were criminally charged in the death of Ethan Martin, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
Carlos Fernandez, 21, the motorcyclist, and Allan Boreland Jr., 39, the owner of the motorcycle, were both arrested.
Fernandez, the driver, faces felony charges of vehicular homicide, culpable negligence manslaughter, and reckless driving causing serious bodily harm. He also faces two misdemeanor charges for street racing and operating a motorcycle without an endorsement.
Boreland, the motorcycle owner, faces a felony charge of culpable negligence manslaughter and was given a citation for participating in a street race as a spectator.
Vehicular homicide and culpable negligence manslaughter are both serious charges.
Vehicular homicide is defined by Florida Statute 782.071 as “ the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.”
Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony and carries the possible consequence of 15 years in prison, fifteen years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Culpable negligence manslaughter is defined by Florida Statute 782.07. It is used in cases where the defendant’s negligence led to the death of another person.
Culpable negligence manslaughter is a second-degree felony that can result in 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and up to a $10,000 fine.
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What Are the Consequences for Street Racing?
The three men face serious consequences not because they were involved in street racing but because their involvement led to the death of a young boy.
In Florida, street racing is illegal, but it does not carry jail time as a potential consequence.
It is illegal to race cars or vehicles outside of “licensed or duly authorized racetracks, drag strips, or other designated areas set aside by proper authorities for such purposes.” It is also illegal to:
- Advertise street racing events
- Ride as a passenger in a street race
- Provide fuel for street races
- Film street racing from inside of the car
- Impede traffic for the races
In Florida, each of these actions is a first-degree misdemeanor, which comes with a fine between $500 and $1,000, a yearlong driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail. Police can also impound vehicles used for street racing for 30 days after a first offense.
Repeat offenses within five years can lead to more serious consequences.
For a second offense, fines increase to $3,000 and a two-year driver’s license suspension. A third offense within the same time period can lead to a fine of up to $5,000 and a four-year driver’s license suspension. Police can take permanent possession of the vehicle used in street racing after a second offense within five years of a prior conviction.
Watching a street race is also a crime. Street racing spectators can receive a traffic citation for a $65 fine.
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