PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — An off-duty deputy accused of causing a crash that put a local teen in a coma was cited for a July crash but won't face charges.
Investigators said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael D’Avanzo was driving 53 mph in a 25 mph zone when he ran a stop sign and crashed into the passenger side of an SUV where 18-year-old Farrah Fox was sitting.
D’Avanzo told investigators he did not see the stop sign because a tree was blocking the view of the sign. The tree has since been trimmed.
Her father, Ira Fox, said his daughter was in the hospital for two months before beginning extensive rehabilitation.
The crash left her with a brain injury. She’s learning how to walk and talk all over again. But her father says Farrah is strong and driven to get better.
On Wednesday, Ira Fox told WPTV she has always been a hard worker.
“She’s incredibly driven. She’s a virtually straight- A student at UCF,” Fox said. “Farrah wants to design jet propulsion systems, supersonic aircraft, laser-guided missiles, defend her country.”
Farrah was on her way to work at the time of the crash.
“We were told in the very beginning that if Farrah makes a 100 percent recovery to the same woman she was before the wreck it will be nothing short of a miracle,” Fox said.
The State Attorney’s Office said charges could not be filed against D’Avanzo because the evidence provided "could not prove all legally required elements of the crime alleged and is insufficient to support a criminal prosecution."
However, D’Avanzo was cited in December with running a stop sign and speeding on a municipal road. He will be required to go to court on January 7.
“I was disappointed. I thought at the very least there would be [a charge of] reckless driving with serious bodily injury,” Fox said.
He says he has other concerns about how the investigation was handled on the scene.
“The deputy made a comment that he hadn’t been drinking and he was the designated driver,” Fox said. “We’re disappointed he was never given a field sobriety test.”
D’Avanzo refused to provide a blood sample for testing, stating "there is no reason for that."
Other passengers in D’Avanzo’s truck said they had been out for mimosas earlier in the afternoon. D’Avanzo said he did not have a drink.
Sgt. Vincent Gray said he assessed D’Avanzo to ascertain whether he was impaired and detected a very faint odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath but did not believe he was impaired.
Investigators said there was not enough probable cause to force a blood draw. Multiple law enforcement officers on scene said D’Avanzo did not appear to be impaired.
“Although they claim that he didn’t appear impaired, that they did smell an odor of alcohol on his breath. Why he wasn’t given a roadside sobriety test?” Fox said.
For now, Fox says he will follow the investigation, but focus more of his time and energy on his daughter’s future and recovery.
“All the anger in the world at this guy isn’t going to get Farrah any better any sooner.”