JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Investigators from the Florida Highway Patrol have issued charges in a fatal traffic crash on Sept. 13 that killed a woman and injured her daughter while they attempted to cross San Jose Boulevard at Haley Road in Mandarin.
The driver in the case, Michael Fortunato, was charged with careless driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk, and expired driver's license.
Esther Ohayon, 57, was killed and her daughter, 16-year-old Orly Ohayon, was struck.
After months of extensive research and investigative techniques, members of the Florida Highway Patrol said they concluded a thorough investigation and provided the parties involved with the appropriate information.
They said Fortunato recently met with investigators and was very cooperative during the interview. Additionally, Fortunato has been cooperative throughout the case and provided investigators with information as requested, troopers said.
Fortunato told investigators that he didn't see Ohayon and her 16-year-old daughter as they crossed the road to get to services at Etz Chaim Synagogue.
This is the second time Fortunato has hit and killed a person with his vehicle and has not faced criminal charges. The news is something Rabbi Yaakov Fisch at Etz Chaim Synagogue found disheartening.
"I honestly only heard about it through the media, but there was a sense of disappointment," said Fisch.
Fisch was not happy to hear about a lack of criminal charges.
"That someone who died in such a way, we thought there would be more serious way to do this beyond a traffic violation," said Fisch.
"The charges issued are civil and not criminal based on the evidence collected, because there was no criminal intent or criminal action involved with this case," said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan.
Fortunato was never criminally charged in a case back in 2009, when police said he hit and killed a 6-year-old boy in a separate crash. The FHP said because Fortunato was not drinking or on his cell phone, he wasn't driving while distracted. Therefore, authorities have no criminal recourse to charge him.
"Does the fact that he was involved in another fatal years ago play into the investigation?" asked Channel 4's Scott Johnson.
"It does not," said Bryan. "Each of these investigations are different. We looked at that investigation, but had to handle our investigation accordingly and are satisfied with the outcome."
The issuances of these charges are considered the conclusion of this investigation, troopers said.
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