DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – A Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy will not face criminal charges after police said he admitted to running a stop sign, causing a crash that left a college student in a coma.
Michael D'Avanzo, who was 25 at the time of the crash, was facing two counts of reckless driving with serious injury at the recommendation of Delray Beach police, WPEC reports. The Florida State Attorney's Office decided Thursday to go against this recommendation and not file charges because "the evidence provided cannot prove all legally required elements of the crime alleged," according to documents.
On July 15, D'Avanzo was off duty when he ran a stop sign and crashed his 2018 Chevrolet Silverado into a Chevrolet Tahoe carrying Farrah Fox, then 18, and Dylan De Giuseppe, then 20, police said.
Delray Beach Police say pick-up truck driven by off-duty PBSO deputy Michael D’Avanzo ran stop sign, crashing into SUV. 18-yr woman and 20-yr man in critical. Sunday crash under investigation. @CBS12 pic.twitter.com/MuxHHKIw7N— Chuck Weber (@ChuckWeber12) July 16, 2018
According to a memo obtained by The Palm Beach Post, D'Avanzo was traveling 53 mph in a 25 mph zone. Six passengers were in his vehicle, police said. D'Avanzo and four of his passengers were treated for minor injuries.
Fox, who had just finished her freshman year as an aeronautics engineering student at the University of Central Florida, was left in a coma until mid-August, after which she was transferred to a long-term rehabilitation facility, the Post reported. De Giuseppe underwent treatment and was released on July 19.
The criminal charges against D'Avanzo would have been punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the Post.
D'Avanzo said he didn't see the stop sign because it was blocked by a tree. In a memo, Assistant State Attorney Laura Burkhart Laurie said that because of the poor view of the stop sign, "anyone going at or above the speed limit would have been involved in this crash.”
The memo said that an analysis of the control module in D'Avanzo's vehicle revealed "the brake switch was never activated," and that the vehicle had accelerated in the five seconds before the collision. The attorney's office argued that if someone was "blatantly blowing the stop sign," they would not have accelerated.
D'Avanzo remains on active duty as a road-patrol deputy, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday.
Fox's family has not yet commented on the prosecutors' decision.