Republican Congressional District 13 candidate David Jolly on Monday confirmed that he had been driving his father’s car when it fatally struck a pedestrian on June 9, 1989, when he was 16.
A Florida Highway Patrol report said he was not charged and was not at fault.
Area news outlets reported on the event late Monday night, initially on WTSP-TV, which indicated that a tipster pointed it out.
Jolly’s campaign confirmed that accident occurred at 9:30 p.m. on a dark stretch of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Pasco County. Jolly and a passenger were driving toward Dade City, where Jolly lived, after seeing a movie when he struck 30-year-old Blair Warren Ropes, whose motorcycle had broken down. Ropes was wearing dark colors and was walking with traffic - state law requires pedestrians to walk against traffic. Jolly drove to a convenience store to call authorities before returning to the scene.
“This was a tragic accident where a man lost his life and a family lost a loved one,” he said in a written statement. “It continues to weigh heavy on my heart after 25 years and we owe the family our deepest sympathies every day.”
Jolly faces Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in a race that both major parties see as a bellwether election, given that it will happen months ahead of the regularly scheduledd midterms.
He questioned the motive as well as the timing of the news tip.
“The facts of this accident have been public record for years,” he wrote. “It is disrespectful and hurtful to the surviving family that someone would now dig this tragedy up to use for political gain. Out of respect for the family and friends who lost a loved one, I will have no further comment.”
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.