Allegedly inebriated suspect in Oct. 7 crash into residential garage told officers he mistakenly hit accelerator instead of brake

Victims were living in garage, Probable Cause Affidavit says

The 29-year-old Sarasota man charged with multiple counts in the aftermath of an Oct. 7 crash into a Courtland Street garage told Police Department officers that he accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.

The incident left one woman dead and three others injured, the Sarasota Police Department report pointed out. The injured women were transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and placed under trauma care, the Probably Cause Affidavitexplained. The woman who died had been pinned under the suspect’s vehicle, the affidavit added.

In contrast to the statement of Jorge Luis Williams Dennis, his girlfriend, Jenny Zamara, told officers that his brake pedal did not work, the affidavit said.

The garage doubled as living space for the five women who were inside at the time of the incident, the affidavit noted. None of the victims has been identified. A state law, Marsy’s Law, allows their names to be kept private from the news media.

Williams Dennis, whose address was not known, has been charged with DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, No Valid Driver’s License Resulting in Death and three separate counts of No Valid Driver’s License with Serious Injury, the Police Department announced after his arrest.

The Sarasota News Leader incorrectly reported last week that Williams Dennis lived at 3150 Courtland St. That was the address of the Oct. 7 incident, which occurred just before 11:30 p.m.

He formally was arrested at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 8, the affidavit noted.

Courtland Street is located between South Tuttle Avenue and South Lockwood Ridge Road. It is north of Bahia Vista Street.

An attachment to the affidavit describes Williams Dennis’ vehicle as a 2015 four-door Jeep with a Florida license tag.

On Oct. 18, Williams Dennis remained in the Sarasota County Jail under total bond of $106,000, the News Leader learned. The Police Department affidavit identified him as an undocumented resident from Nicaragua.

Yet another witness of the Oct 7 incident — who told officers that Williams Dennis is the nephew of her husband — also said “she smelled beer” emanating from Williams Dennis, the affidavit pointed out.

The woman added that she told Williams Dennis, “ ‘You smell like beer,’ ” the affidavit pointed out.

That witness was lying in bed when she heard the crash, she conveyed to the responding officers. She ran toward the garage, she added, and then saw Williams Dennis climbing out of the driver’s side window of the vehicle.

“She stated that [Williams Dennis] apologized,” saying, “I’m sorry,” the affidavit pointed out.

Two officers who responded to the scene also reported that they “could smell the aroma of an alcoholic beverage which remained on him through the duration of the crash investigation,” the affidavit noted.

Moreover, Williams Dennis admitted that he does not have a Florida driver’s license, the affidavit said.

William Dennis told officers that he had been at work on Oct. 7, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Afterward, he continued, he returned home to pick up his girlfriend and his brother, as reported in the affidavit. They went to the Goodwill store on 17th Street “to shop for a few hours” before heading to a Laundromat and then returning to his home to drop off his brother, the affidavit said.

His girlfriend, Zamara, remained with Williams Dennis when he left for Courtland Street “to drop off some items,” the affidavit added.

The News Leader could find no prior criminal charges against Williams Dennis when it searched the records of the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court.