Man crashes into two pedestrians while playing 'Pokemon Go' on his phone

Posted at 10:20 PM, Dec 18, 2016

A man crashed into two pedestrians while playing "Pokemon Go" on his phone. It happened at around 2:20 p.m. on Sunday near the intersection of SR 580 and CR 1 in Dunedin. 

Deputies say that that Vincent Barone veered off the road on SR 580 and struck two pedestrians on the sidewalk. Barone fled the scene and told deputies he left because he "panicked." 

A motorcyclist that witnessed the crash followed Barone to a convenience store on 1401 Pinehurst Road. The witness called 911 and detained Barone until deputies arrived.

The pedestrians hit in the crash have been identified as Sheree Dean and Sherman Puckett. Both sustained serious injuries and were transported to Bayfront Medical Center.

John Beard, Dean's step-father, says she's in critical condition, with a broken jaw and broken ribs. 

"It's going to be a rough Christmas if she doesn't pull through," he said. 

He says Puckett has a broken leg. 

Barone, a teacher at Plato Academy in Largo, told investigators that he was playing "Pokemon Go" on his phone and was distracted at the time of the crash. 

"Why would a school teacher be doing [that]?", said Dean, "he's got to know better." 

Barone is charged with two counts of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Serious Bodily Injury.

A judge set his bond to $10,000 on Monday during Barone's first appearance. 

Dina Zerbas, whose daughter is in Barone's class, testified on his behalf in front of the judge. 

"It was an unfortunate accident," she told reporters outside of the courthouse, "but I don't think there's any adult here that could say they haven't texted or looked at their phone while driving, because we'd all be liars." 

Her heart goes out to the victims, but she says Barone is a victim too.

"Because, I mean, when you're in a situation like that, nobody knows how you're going to handle it," she said. 

Beard hopes to find the driver who stopped to help. 

"I'd hunt him down and thank him from the bottom of my heart." 

Barone's attorney told reporters outside the courthouse that he believes Barone stopped before the witness caught up to him and that more information will come out in Barone's defense.  

Two lawmakers filed similar bills in the state house and senate this month that would allow authorities to stop minors caught texting and driving as a primary offense. 

Right now officers can only cite drivers for texting and driving after stopping them for another offense. 

Both lawmakers hope once the bills pass for minors, they can extend it to include drivers of all ages.