Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Attorney in March Fatality Has a Record of Speeding; Police Say He Was Driving at Least 85 MPH on Florida A1A

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Attorney in March Fatality Has a Record of Speeding; Police Say He Was Driving at Least 85 MPH on Florida A1A

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIDGET MURPHY

The federal prosecutor accused of causing a woman's death in a speeding-related wreck got other speeding tickets in the last six years and had his driver's license suspended.

State records show that since 2000, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gallagher has received two speeding tickets. He failed to pay a fine for one of them, prompting authorities to suspend his driver's license for 20 days in February 2004.

On March 25 around 7 p.m., Gallagher was driving at least 85 mph in a 55-mph zone on Florida A1A when his black BMW convertible rear-ended a red Chevrolet Tahoe in which 23-year-old Coty Hastings was a passenger, according to a Florida Highway Patrol investigation.

Authorities arrested Gallagher on Tuesday. The assistant state attorney in charge of the case said Wednesday that the months-long delay in charging Gallagher wasn't unusual, although the FHP said its investigation was complete in May.

Hastings wasn't wearing a seat belt and was ejected after the Tahoe went off the road. Then the truck hit a pole, overturned and struck a house that was under construction. The woman died at Shands Jacksonville hospital a day later, according to the crash report.

Gallagher, 50, of St. Augustine, was booked into jail on a felony vehicular homicide charge and two misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, after a grand jury's indictment. His attorney, Hank Coxe, declined comment Wednesday. Gallagher couldn't be reached at his home.

Gallagher's driving history shows he got a speeding ticket in Duval County in 2000 for driving 64 mph in a 55-mph zone. That cost him three points on his driver's license.

In 2003, Gallagher got a speeding ticket in Baker County for driving 89 mph in a 70-mph zone, records show. That offense got him four points on his license. When he didn't pay the fine, records show authorities suspended his license until he made the payment 20 days later.

Assistant State Attorney Dennis Craig, who is prosecuting the vehicular homicide case against Gallagher in the 7th Judicial Circuit, said Wednesday the timing of the man's arrest compared with the end of the Highway Patrol's investigation wasn't long "relative to what needed to be done. …

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