An Alford man has been identified as the driver of a UTV that struck and killed a 14-year-old girl in the Mossy Pond community of Altha on March 27.
Benjamin Michael Harris, 31, turned himself in to the Florida Highway Patrol on Tuesday, April 6, according to a press release by that agency.
“He will be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run, failed to remain at the scene involving death,” the agency release stated.
A Cottondale man, although not a party in the crash, is also being charged in the case. FHP representative Jason King clarified that Brandon Robert Harris, 32, was reportedly driving another vehicle and was in front of the Benjamin Michael Harris UTV before Benjamin Michael Harris went around him to pass and in doing so struck the girl.
Brandon Robert Harris is being charged with felony hit-and-run, King explained, because he allegedly failed to stop at a crash scene that involved serious bodily injury or death, as required by law, and that he was also charged with felony driving while his license was suspended or revoked-habitual offender.
He was taken into custody at his residence on April 6 by two FHP troopers and Jackson County Sheriff Donnie Edenfield.
The UTV was found abandoned in Jackson County the day after the incident as pilots from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office worked with FHP to find the white Can-Am. It was located about 200 feet into the woods, north off Sleepy Hollow Drive.
Officials reported soon after the crash that the driver had fled the scene of the accident following its occurrence on NW Lake McKinzie Boulevard in Calhoun County’s Mossy Head/Altha area shortly after 11 p.m.
FHP reported the UTV was northbound on the road as the girl was walking southbound on it, and that the driver veered into the southbound traffic flow and struck her.
In a press release issued on April 6, FHP expressed gratitude to the agencies and community members that assisted in the case.
“The patience and trust the community invested in us gave us the ability to find a resolution,” the releases stated. “the dedication and team work of the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Mossy Pond community, collectively brought two individuals to justice and they shall answer for their charges. We know this action will never bring someone back but do hope it helps the family find closure during their tragic time of loss,” it concluded.