Deputy accused of alcohol-related crash, hit-and-run

Image 1 of 8

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has suspended a deputy without pay following a hit-and-run crash and suspicion of drunk driving.

Deputy James Paes, a thirteen year veteran of the force, is accused of leaving the scene of two crashes, once in his vehicle, the second on foot.

"I heard bang bang bang," said June Zitman. "I said, that's an accident."

Pictures taken by witnesses show wrecked pickups, one of them flipped over in a church parking lot off of 131st Street.

Troopers say the other was driven by Paes, who rammed through a backyard fence at around 9PM Sunday.

"For two pickup trucks, especially pickup trucks, to both be destroyed as much as they were, the deputy was flying," said Kevin McGarry, who also heard the crash.

Troopers wrote on their report Paes left the scene of a previous crash at a "high rate of speed" and that he is suspected of drunk driving.

The first crash is called relatively minor, but the second, with the pickup near the church parking lot, landed the other driver in the hospital with serious injuries.

"When the state trooper opened up his back door and realized it was a deputy that was driving, he shook his head and said, he used to be a deputy," said McGarry.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says Paes was driving his personal vehicle and that he has been suspended without pay, pending termination.

Two crashes, two attempts to get away, stunned neighbors.

"They should know better," said Zitman. "You are the one who protects people. You are the one who would have told people to try to avoid this, and you are doing that."

Deputy Paes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He was treated at a hospital for relatively minor injuries, then arrested.