Tanner Dashner’s dad asks families to ‘be able to forgive Tanner and me,’ during his sentencing hearing

Tanner Dashner's dad asks families to 'be able to forgive Tanner and me,' during his sentencing hearing


FORT PIERCE — In emotional testimony Monday, the father of Tanner Dashner said his son knew right from wrong and called what happened “a terrible mistake.”

“I pray that the families involved will be able to forgive Tanner and me for something that was unforeseen,” Dashner’s father, Bradle Dashner said. “He does not have an angry bone in his body.”

Tanner Dashner walks in to the court room during his sentencing hearing Monday, June 27, 2022 at the St. Lucie County Courthouse. The 24-year-old changed his plea in March to “open” to all charges following a 2018 crash where Dashner, then 21, crashed his sport utility vehicle in to the back of a 2002 Dodge Dakota at Midway Road while traveling at an estimated speed of 97 mph in a 30 mph zone. The Dodge, driven by Kedan Tillett, 27 of Fort Pierce, and four passengers – Alexis Chaney, 17; Anthony Victor, 21; Anthony Martin, 16, all of Fort Pierce; and Darien Douglas, 21, of Port St. Lucie all died as the pickup caught fire. Florida Highway patrol investigators reported that Dashner had a blood-alcohol content triple the legal limit of 0.08. Dashner was arrested about a month after the crash on five counts each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in connection to the traffic incident.

The elder Dashner spoke in Senior Circuit Judge Robert Makemson’s courtroom in the St. Lucie County courthouse as part of sentencing proceedings for his son, who’s been adjudicated guilty and jailed on a host of charges in connection with a 2018 fiery crash that left five dead.

Florida Highway Patrol investigators have reported Tanner Dashner, now 24, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.274 percent, more than triple the legal limit of 0.08.

“I can’t even call it an accident. It’s not an accident. It’s a tragedy,” Bradley Dashner said in the crowded courtroom. “We always prided ourselves on having Tanner be accountable for his actions.”

Bradley Dashner looks over at Assistant State Attorney Brandon White before speaking to Senior Circuit Judge Robert Makemson at the St. Lucie County Courthouse June 27, 2022, during the sentencing hearing of his son, Tanner Dashner.  "We always prided ourselves on having Tanner be accountable for his actions,"  Dashner said.  "That was something we taught both of our boys was actions have consequences."  Tanner Dashner changed his plea in March to "open"  to all charges following a 2018 crash where Dashner, then 21, crashed his sport utility vehicle in to the back of a 2002 Dodge Dakota at Midway Road while traveling at an estimated speed of 97 mph in a 30 mph zone.  The Dodge, driven by Kedan Tillett, 27 of Fort Pierce and four passengers - Alexis Chaney, 17;  Anthony Victor, 21;  Anthony Martin, 16, all of Fort Pierce;  and Darien Douglas, 21, of Port St. Lucie all died as the pickup caught fire.  Florida Highway patrol investigators reported that Dashner had a blood-alcohol content triple the legal limit of 0.08.  Dashner was arrested about a month after the crash on five counts of each of the DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in connection to the traffic incident.

Bradley Dashner looks over at Assistant State Attorney Brandon White before speaking to Senior Circuit Judge Robert Makemson at the St. Lucie County Courthouse June 27, 2022, during the sentencing hearing of his son, Tanner Dashner. “We always prided ourselves on having Tanner be accountable for his actions,” Dashner said. “That was something we taught both of our boys was actions have consequences.” Tanner Dashner changed his plea in March to “open” to all charges following a 2018 crash where Dashner, then 21, crashed his sport utility vehicle in to the back of a 2002 Dodge Dakota at Midway Road while traveling at an estimated speed of 97 mph in a 30 mph zone. The Dodge, driven by Kedan Tillett, 27 of Fort Pierce and four passengers – Alexis Chaney, 17; Anthony Victor, 21; Anthony Martin, 16, all of Fort Pierce; and Darien Douglas, 21, of Port St. Lucie all died as the pickup caught fire. Florida Highway patrol investigators reported that Dashner had a blood-alcohol content triple the legal limit of 0.08. Dashner was arrested about a month after the crash on five counts of each of the DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in connection to the traffic incident.

More: Fort Pierce man accused in 2018 DUI crash that killed 5 changes plea, avoids trial

Tanner Dashner, then 21, was driving Nov. 23, 2018, an estimated 97 mph in a 30 mph zone south on South 25th Street when his sport utility vehicle slammed into the back of a 2002 Dodge Dakota at Midway Road.

The Dodge, driven by Kedan Tillett, 27, of Fort Pierce, and a 2003 BMW in front of it had been stopped at the red light at Midway Road.

Dashner didn’t slow down as the Dodge and BMW began to accelerate from a stop after the red light turned green.

Dashner’s GMC hits the Dodge, which then crashed into the BMW. The GMC struck the Dodge a second time. The Dodge’s gas tank “was compromised and ignited into a fire,” a report states.

Tillett, and four passengers—Alexis Chaney, 17; Anthony Victor, 21; Anthony Martin, 16, all of Fort Pierce; and Darien Douglas, 21, of Port St. Lucie—all died as the pickup caught fire. A sixth person in the Dodge, then 14-year-old Ari’yonnia Stanberry, of Stuart, was pulled out of the truck by a bystander.

Dashner’s charges included five counts each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, though defense attorney Ashley Minton Monday argued against the five vehicular homicide counts.

Over objections from Assistant State Attorney Brandon White, Makemson agreed and the five vehicular homicide charges were struck.

Minton read several letters from associates and relatives of Tanner Dashner, including from his mother, praising his character and personality.

Under questioning from White, Bradley Dashner said his son wasn’t beaten or molested as a child and had advantages because he and his wife provided for him. He was an accomplished saxophone player with friends, and had no disciplinary issues at school. Bradley Dashner said his son was raised to be a law abiding citizen.

5 killed in crash: Tanner Dashner had blood-alcohol three times the legal limit, report says

“He’s not some drooling imbecile who doesn’t know what’s happening, right?” White asked.

“No,” Bradley Dashner replied.

“He knows right from wrong?” White asked.

“Yes,” Brad Dashner replied.

In Dashner’s vehicle, investigators found a bottle of rum that was about a quarter full, and an empty bottle of whiskey.

Investigators learned that before the crash Dashner entered On the Edge Bar & Grill. Dashner was accompanied by two others and they sat at a table, records show. Not long after that, two others joined them.

The sentencing hearing continues Monday.

Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or reach him by phone at 772-267-7926. Email him at will.greenlee@tcpalm.com

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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Sentencing for Tanner Dashner in crash that killed 5 continues Monday



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