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Man involved in deadly crash that killed Acreage teen requests to drive again

Posted at 8:11 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 20:11:01-04

THE ACREAGE, Fla. — A family from The Acreage was back in court on Friday, rehashing emotions from four years ago when they lost their young daughter to another teenager who ran a stop sign.

It’s a reminder for parents to speak with their own teens about safe and responsible driving this summer.

Back in 2015, then 17-year old Tristyn Dino ran a stop sign at the intersection of Tangerine and 120th Street in The Acreage, killing 18-year old Brittany Baxter. She was just a month away from graduating from high school and had plans to go to college.

Dino wasn’t charged criminally, but a judge had ordered for his license to be suspended for 20 years.

In April of this year, his lawyers filed a motion in Palm Beach County court for hardship in order to obtain some driving privileges back for work purposes only.

“It hurts every day,” said Brittany’s father, Eric Baxter, outside of the courtroom Friday. “Brittany is number one in my heart. And she’ll always be there.”

Following the crash, a thorough investigation was conducted. Dino was charged with committing a traffic infraction causing a fatality.

Previously, Dino had a troubled driving record, showing more than a dozen tickets in his first year and a half of driving. His first driving ticket was at age 15 for not having an adult in the car, according to the Baxter family attorney.

Following the crash, Dino was ordered to do 120 hours of community service and had a 20-year suspension placed on his driver’s license.

“I don’t think he maliciously tried to hurt my daughter," Eric Baxter told the in court. “He made a mistake, he needs to pay for a mistake.”

Since the crash, the now 21-year old Dino has graduated high school, started his own business, and gotten engaged.

His attorneys say since the crash, he’s spent at least $8,000 on Uber, Lyft and friends to transport him for his business, which involves delivering luxury watches to dealers and clients. His lawyer said he spends about $150 to 200 a day in transportation and has not driven a car since the incident.

His father, Dante Dino, also shared words with the judge in court Friday.

“My heart goes out to [the family] every day but at the same time my son is trying to live a life,” he said. “He’s doing the only thing he can do. He has to live life every day with what happened to Brittany. It’s a hard thing to go through.”

After an hour-long hearing with testimony from both families, Judge Ashley Zuckerman denied the motion. According to Judge Zuckerman, Dino can apply for hardship at year 10 of his 20-year suspension.

“I’m very satisfied with what the judge came up with,” said Eric Baxter. “It’s devastating how badly you can change your life and theirs.”

Dino’s attorney declined to speak on camera with WPTV but did issue a statement saying they respect the judge’s decision.

Kelly Powell, who runs the Palm Beach County chapter of Safe Kids Worldwide, educates teen drivers to prevent situations like this.

“We want to make sure every child is safe,” she said. “We can make mistakes pretty much in any part of our life but when you’re talking about a vehicle, you can either kill yourself or someone else.”

She said parents need to have tough conversations with their children about driving.

“You need to know where they’re going, you need to know how many people are in their car. You need to set some restrictions. It’s a privilege,” she said.

She encourages parents to make a contract with their teenager and set some ground rules and expectations when it comes to safer driving on the roads.

“Don’t just hand them the keys and say, ‘Be safe,’” she said. “You need to communicate with them.”

Click here to learn more about establishing a driving contract with your child.

The Baxter family also has this message for teen drivers this summer:

“You’re not invincible…If you’re driving, pay attention. Get off the phones,” said Eric Baxter. “With the blink of an eye, you could change the life of somebody else you don’t even know.”

The family continues to maintain a butterfly garden that was planted at the crash site in Brittany’s memory in 2016.

Click here for more tips and talking points with your teen driver.