LAW & DISORDER: Suspect in fatal hit-and-run crash turns himself in — (The Florida Times-Union)

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The Florida Times-Union

Published Saturday, July 7, 2007

By Bridget Murphy, The Times-Union

A 25-year-old Jacksonville man accused of killing a couple in an April hit-and-run crash turned himself in to a Florida Highway Patrol investigator Thursday.

Anthony Clayton Bell is in jail on multiple felony charges in the deaths of Paula Herrington, 44, and Waymon “Harry” Herrington, 56. His bail is $400,000.

The Highway Patrol said its investigation showed Bell was on prescription medication when his pickup truck hit the Herringtons’ car on Interstate 295 and kept going. He crashed two more times before police captured him with the help of witnesses.

Authorities charged Bell with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving death and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, Lt. Bill Leeper said. Bell also faces two unrelated felony charges involving accusations of insurance fraud.

Paula Herrington’s mother, Hazel North of Jacksonville, said Friday that the family expected more.

“If he’s basically going to get a slap on the wrist, it seems to me there’s going to be a grave injustice here,” North told the Times-Union.

The Herringtons, both military veterans and the parents of a 20-year-old son, were a divorced couple whose seesaw relationship of more than 20 years was on an upswing at the time of the crash. Family said they were planning to marry again this summer.

Bell spent time in a hospital mental ward after the April 3 crash. His mother, Jacqueline Bell, told the Times-Union at the time that her son was suicidal and bipolar and struggling with depression after a recent divorce. She said he took a pill overdose before getting in his truck and speeding off to what became the fatal encounter.

She told the Times-Union on Friday that her son has been getting mental health treatment since the crash.

“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m just stunned,” the Callahan mother said of her son’s arrest.

Bell didn’t have alcohol or illegal drugs in his system and it hasn’t been determined if the amount of prescription antidepressants in his system was of a level to consider him legally impaired, according to the FHP.

Leeper said if it’s found Bell was under the influence at the time of the crash, authorities would file additional charges. The father of two young boys, Bell had no local arrest history, police previously said.