Witnesses recall 'reckless' driving before deadly Bayshore crash; driver denied bond

One of the most scenic streets in Tampa became the scene of a devastating crash last week when a pickup truck jumped the curb on Bayshore Boulevard and crashed into a jogger.

The crash was witnessed by many pedestrians and drivers, including well-known restauranteur and businessman Richard Gonzmart.

"I've not seen a car driving that fast, that dangerously, swerving back-and-forth, like the suspension wasn't working," Gonzmart said during a bond hearing for the driver Wednesday. 

He was not the only one who came to recount what happened.

"I saw a white pickup truck swerve in the right lane to pass it and pretty much lost control," said Michael Roberts, who was working on the 10th floor of a Bayshore high rise building. "It struck the wall and a pedestrian who I couldn’t tell was walking south or standing there." 

That pedestrian was George Gage, who was out for his morning jog and never saw driver Benjamin Ehas coming.

During the bond hearing, Tampa Police Corporal Matthew Belmonte revealed what may have been behind Ehas' erratic driving. Ehas told Belmonte he took a Xanax and two shots of Fireball whiskey right before the crash.

"He told me that he had also smoked marijuana at 7 o'clock in the morning," said Corporal Belmonte.

When the truck hit Gage, it sent him over the wall into the water. Witnesses jumped in to try to save him but it was too late. He died of his injuries. 

Prosecutors pointed out Ehas was convicted of driving with a suspended license and had been putting the community in danger for years. The judge agreed. She denied Ehas bond and he will stay in jail until his trial date.