PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The driver who was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that struck and killed a 16-year-old boy posted videos before and after the crash that are raising questions.
Troopers said Keith Jones, 53, of Jacksonville Beach, hit and killed Zander Laurin, a Ponte Vedra High sophomore, as the teen was running along A1A near Mickler’s Landing about 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Based on preliminary details, investigators said Laurin was in the bike lane when Jones' truck veered out of his lane and hit the teen. Laurin’s mother contends the boy was jogging along the bike path.
Jones stayed at the scene and cooperated with the crash investigation. Troopers said they’re still investigating to determine whether he could face any charges.
On Thursday, the News4Jax I-TEAM uncovered several social media messages Jones posted before and after the crash that are now raising eyebrows.
“I’ll tell you, it’s been a very sobering day everyone,” said Jones in a live video streamed on YouTube Wednesday afternoon. The clip was recorded from his office hours after the crash.
“Please pray for Zander,” Jones said in the video. “He’s just a 16-year-old kid and it’s an accident and it just happened that quick. And I came here from the bottom of my heart to ask y’all to pray for Zander and to pray for me.”
Jones did not appear then to know Laurin had died, but he did mention that the teen was airlifted to the hospital.
Then Jones ranted about his insurance company, saying it was not helping him fix the damage to his pickup. He noted the truck was missing a mirror and the headlight was in need of repair.
“This is all they’re worried about right here,” he said while holding cash. “That’s all they’re worried about in corporate America. They aren’t worried about people!”
The I-TEAM researched Jones' social media accounts and found several videos on his Facebook page as well that raised questions. In May, he posted multiple live videos while he appeared to be driving on Jacksonville roadways, including Interstate 95 and over the Mathews Bridge. Four separate Facebook Live videos on his page appear to show him using his phone to stream conversations with loved ones while driving.
News4Jax showed copies of the recordings to Florida Highway Patrol Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan, a supervisor and spokesman for the state agency.
Micolucci: Does that play into this investigation? That maybe he had a history of distracted driving?
Bryan: It could. That’s what our investigators are going to look at.
Micolucci: With technology, are you able to subpoena the phone and see what he was doing around the time of the crash?
Bryan: We can. Our investigators do have that opportunity.
Bryan said livestreaming while driving is dangerous and against the law. “Typically the things that we look at (are) whether the sun is a factor,” Bryan said. “Glare? Reflection? Inclement weather? Distracted driving? Impairment?”
Jones is a certified public accountant, or CPA. He’s in the tax business and his office is located in the TIAA Bank Building in downtown Jacksonville. His receptionist said he wasn’t there when News4Jax stopped by for comment Thursday morning.
Jones did, however, respond to a Facebook message, saying he did not wish to comment for this story. He wrote: “I will only say that my condolences go out to Zander’s family and friends!”
Once News4Jax contacted Jones and asked questions about the crash and his social media posts, his Facebook page was no longer publicly visible.