Clay County man’s DUI conviction upheld in son’s ATV death

A state appeals court this week upheld the DUI manslaughter conviction of a Clay County man whose son was killed when their all-terrain vehicle was struck by a truck on a rural road.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday turned down an appeal by Thomas Frank Clark, whose 17-year-old son, Kameron, died after the December 2015 accident.

Clark was riding the ATV with his son on the back when it tipped into a ditch, according to Tuesday’s ruling.

Clark was able to get the ATV upright in the road and sat on it with his son while trying to start the vehicle. The truck then struck them, injuring Clark and killing Kameron, who had Down syndrome.

A test at a hospital showed Clark had a blood-alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit, and he was subsequently convicted of DUI manslaughter and DUI with property damage.

Clark argued in the appeal that insufficient evidence existed to show that he was in control of the ATV at the time of the accident or that his operation of the vehicle caused his son’s death, according to the ruling.

But the panel of the Tallahassee-based appeals court disagreed.

“The evidence was clear the appellant (Clark) drove the ATV in a manner to flip it and caused it to be in the road in danger of oncoming traffic when it was hit,” said the six-page ruling, written by Judge Clay Roberts and joined by Judges Timothy Osterhaus and Harvey Jay.

“This evidence was sufficient for the jury to find the appellant was in physical control of the ATV, which he drove to a resting place that resulted in Kameron’s death.”

The ruling did not detail Clark’s sentence, but the Florida Department of Corrections website indicates he was sentenced to 10 years and five months in prison and is an inmate at South Bay Correctional Facility.