No criminal charges for deputy in deadly crash

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - An Okeechobee County Sheriff's Deputy will not face any criminal charges, despite being found at fault in a crash that killed two young women last December.

The front page of a report from the Florida Highway Patrol says that civil citations for violations of careless driving are appropriate.

Deputy Joseph Gracie was traveling 87 miles an hour at the time of impact.

Video was taken right after the crash the morning of December 1st. Deputy Joseph Gracie was responding to an emergency call without the vehicle's lights or sirens on.

He collided with a car turning into the McDonald's along State Road 70.

Killed were 21-year-old Hilda Medrano and 21-year-old Elizabeth Renteria.

A passenger in the car survived.

The report said Deputy Gracie caused the crash, the deaths of the driver and front passenger as well as the injuries to the rear seat passenger.

With litigation pending, Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May would not comment but released a statement that said in part, "As it did when this crash occurred, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about this crash."

Despite the findings, Bruce Harrison in the State Attorney's Office said the case did not warrant criminal charges.  He said the deputy's actions "Did not rise to the level of conscious and intentional indifference to consequences."

Harrison added that the street was well lit, there were optimal driving conditions, and Renteria, the driver of the other car, failed to yield the right of way.

As for Deputy Gracie, injuries from the crash forced him to retire.  He has since moved out of state.

The civil citations Gracie faces are for careless driving causing death and for failing to use his lights and sirens.

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