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Son of candidate for St. Lucie County sheriff arrested on DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide charges

Police say Ryan Hester, son of Chief Deputy Brian Hester, caused crash that killed 32-year-old mother
scene of fatal crash on Indian River Drive on Super Bowl Sunday 2021
Posted at 11:35 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 18:13:00-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The 19-year-old son of a candidate for St. Lucie County sheriff has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in a crash that killed a 32-year-old mother.

Ryan Luke Hester turned himself in Wednesday night at the St. Lucie County Jail.

According to a police report, Hester consumed 14 mimosas at the On the Edge Bar & Grill on Feb. 7 before driving a Ford F-150 south on Indian River Drive.

Fort Pierce police said Hester crossed into the northbound lane, striking a Nissan Altima head-on.

The report said Hester was driving at a speed of about 70 mph along the 35 mph roadway at the time of impact, with a blood-alcohol content of at least .13. Witnesses described Hester as frantic and saying, "I [messed] up."

Police said Hester had "a strong odor coming from his face and mouth, consistent with that of an alcoholic beverage."

Hester is the son of St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester.

St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester
Brian Hester is chief deputy of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office and a candidate for sheriff.

The other driver had to be extracted from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

Melanie Trewyn, mother of the victim, said her daughter Claudia was adopted from Guatemala as a teenager and has a young child.

Ryan Hester was also treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

He faces one count of DUI manslaughter and one count of vehicular homicide.

Brian Hester released a statement about his son's arrest Thursday morning on Facebook.

Last night, my adult son, Luke Hester, voluntarily surrendered himself to the St. Lucie County Jail for warrants issued...

Posted by Hester for St. Lucie County Sheriff on Thursday, April 22, 2021

"We understand that there are and will be rumors and questions surrounding this, so in the interest of transparency, we wanted you to hear about it from us first," he wrote, in part. "We know and trust that our justice system is a fair one, that individuals must be held accountable for their actions, and we continue to pray and ask for prayers for everyone involved, especially the family who lost a loved one. We appreciate your support and respect for our privacy as we work through this together as a family."

According to the report, Ryan Hester told investigators that he "does not want his dad, a law enforcement officer, to help in his dilemma and that he needs to pay for what he's done."

On the Edge Bar & Grill management did not have a comment about the arrest and allegations that he was drinking underage, only saying bartenders are given training about the legal expectations.

An arrest report said two bartenders were interviewed about serving Ryan Hester, but "based on the review of the surveillance video, there are inconsistencies in the written statements of [the bartenders]."

On the Edge Bar & Grill also came under fire when Tanner Dashner, 21, was accused of drinking at the bar before being charged with DUI and causing a fiery crash that killed five people in 2018, according to an attorney for the victims.

State records show On the Edge Bar & Grill has an active liquor license and one investigation in 2020 that did not result in any action.

St. Lucie County Jail records show that Ryan Hester was being held on a $200,000 bond.