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Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office pays settlement after deputy crash kills teen

North Florida intersection
Posted at 10:06 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 08:11:28-05

TAMPA, Fla — For 15 years, Josiah Pinner was here.

"He was goofy. He was a big family person," said his mother Joanne Rojas.

Rojas tells ABC Action News that he also had a lot to look ahead to.

"And he was so excited for his eighth-grade dance," she added.

But Josiah never made it to that dance. He was hit and killed while walking at night near the intersection of North Florida Avenue and East 124th Avenue in January of 2019.

Related 15-year-old pedestrian hit, killed by undercover HCSO deputy

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Philip Montesi was behind the wheel and speeding.

"I don't think I will ever get over this," said Rojas.

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The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told journalists in 2019 that Montesi hit Josiah after swerving to avoid hitting another pedestrian. At the time, Montesi was suspended for five days and required to attend a driving course. But ultimately the state attorney and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said they couldn't charge him with a crime.

But since then, there have been some changes.

Related Florida Avenue deaths could bring safety changes

Josiah's family recently settled with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, for an undisclosed amount of money, after filing an auto negligence lawsuit.

Edward Reyes, the attorney who handled the family's case, says it took about two years to finally close the case.

"And it hasn't been an easy journey, through the court system, through depositions, through seeing the negligence that 'supposedly wasn't there' that come to find out was very apparent," he said.

The fatal accident has also created change at the intersection where it happened. The lighting on the street has been updated and a third crosswalk as added.

But Rojas says, justice still hasn't been served.

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"They took my little boy and to throw money at me to make it feel all better, no that's not justice at all," she said.

Rojas says she wants Montesi to face some type of criminal charge in connection to her son's death. But at the very least, she thinks he should be fired from the sheriff's office.

"Suspense from the sheriff [office]? Yes," she said.

And as she continues to push for more in her son's case, she tells ABC Action News that she's left with another fight all her own.

"How do you live life with a broken heart, but you still have a full heart because you still have kids here? That's a daily battle," she said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has released the following statement on the settlement with Josiah's family, saying quote:

"A settlement was reached with the Pinner family last year. Paperwork allowing Josiah Pinner’s mother to be the beneficiary of those funds was just completed by the family’s attorney last month. As expressed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in the past, the loss of any child, regardless of the circumstances, is devastating, and we wish the Pinner family well as they work to find closure in this tragedy.”

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