State wants driver in jail through trial after deadly Bayshore crash

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – The State of Florida is asking a judge to keep the accused drunk driver in the deadly Bayshore Boulevard crash in jail until trial because he “poses a threat of harm to the community.”

Benjamin Ehas, 31, is charged with DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide for Thursday morning’s crash that killed 70-year-old George Gage on the Bayshore sidewalk near West Julia Street.

Assistant State’s Attorney Camaria Z. Pettis-Mackle filed a motion for Pretrial Detention on Monday.

“There is a substantial probability that the defendant committed such crimes, the factual circumstances of the crimes indicate a disregard for the safety of the community, and there are no conditions of release reasonably sufficient to protect the community from the risk of physical harm to persons,” the assistant state’s attorney writes in the new motion.

According to the motion, two witnesses saw Ehas lying on the ground near the crash scene and no other person by the Pinch a Penny truck.

One witness said he saw the Ford F-150 driving “approximately 70 miles per hour and rapidly passing vehicles.”

This witness told police that the truck “tried to pass a vehicle on the right and appeared to have lost control before striking the wall.”

When Tampa Police Corporal Matthew Belmont’s made contact with Ehas, he “observed an odor of alcohol coming from his breath” and that he had “red, watery eyes and slurred speech when he spoke.”

Medical testing at the hospital found Ehas to have a blood-alcohol level of .234, nearly three times the legal limit.

In the criminal report affidavit, Ehas admitted to police to drinking a double shot of whiskey less than 15 minutes before the crash. He also told police he smoked marijuana earlier in the morning.

Ehas, who was employed by Pinch A Penny, a pool supply company, was driving a company truck when the crash occurred.

Pinch A Penny released the following statement to WFLA:

“As a local, independently owned and operated business, we are proud members of the Tampa community and are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred involving one of our former employees. Pinch A Penny of South Tampa maintains an unwavering commitment to the highest standard of safety, and have a zero tolerance policy for the reckless behavior this individual displayed. We intend to cooperate fully with local law enforcement throughout the ongoing investigation. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those involved.”

Ehas’ family also provided News Channel 8 with a statement, saying “our heart goes out the family of the person who lost their life.”

Ehas is being represented by a public defender. His pretrial detention hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.

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