FHP arrests man for DUI manslaughter and property damage

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Police lights blare from the officer's vehicle.
Police lights.

A felony warrant for arrest was served to an Iowa man who visited Florida in January and was involved in a crash that killed two people.

Benjamin Desjardine, 40, has been charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter and three counts of DUI property damage for a crash on County Road 721 and State Road 78 on Jan. 4 in the evening.

For a DUI manslaughter conviction in Florida, there is a four-year mandatory minimum sentence, but the prison term varies depending upon several resulting factors. The average sentence for the conviction is 10 years.

While Desjardine’s prison term may differ with his additional charges, he can expect significant fines to accompany the pending legal outcome if he is convicted.

Desjardine was driving a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 north on CR-721 at 11 p.m. When he maneuvered into the southbound lanes, he caused a second vehicle to swerve to avoid him.

Shannon Garrett, 19, was driving a 2005 Ford Five Hundred with passenger River Osceola, 18, south on CR-721.

Garrett swerved to avoid Desjardine, according to the Florida Highway Patrol press release. The vehicle struck a guardrail, which was located on the west shoulder and her Ford stopped within the southbound lane.

Meanwhile, Desjardine continued north in the southbound lane as a third vehicle approached, driven by Michael Furrow.

State Road 78 and County Road 721 was the location of the Jan. 4 crash. It resulted in two fatalities. Photo via Google Maps.
State Road 78 and County Road 721 was the location of the Jan. 4 crash. It resulted in two fatalities. Photo via Google Maps.

Furrow, 55, was steering a 2017 Hyundai Sonata with passenger Robert Yale, 71. The vehicle of the Lehigh Acres resident collided with the front of Desjardine’s Ford 1500.

Desjardine’s vehicle overturned as it came to a final rest on the east shoulder, per the press release. Furrow’s Hyundai Sonata rotated and stopped facing north from within the southbound lane.

Tracy Cypress, 20, exited an vehicle not involved in the crash to help those in the Ford 1500 and the Hyundai Sonata.

Furrow’s vehicle became an impediment in the dark roadway. Linda Tommie, who was driving a 2011 Ford F150, swerved to avoid it. Tommie, 61, propelled into the right front of the Hyundai Sonata and proceeded to hit Cypress, along with a guardrail. The Ford F-150 came to rest within the west shoulder.

Furrow and Yale died from the crash while Cypress was critically injured, per the FHP press release. These three victims were sent to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center. Desjardine had serious injuries and was sent to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Desjardine is currently booked into Glades County Jail.

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