The man accused of a DUI in a crash that killed an off-duty Escambia County deputy last month has entered a plea of not guilty.
Tristen Cole Parker, 26, failed to stop at a stop sign, and his bucket truck struck an oncoming silver Jeep driven by the deputy, according to an arrest report. He is charged with negligent DUI vehicular manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and driving with a suspended license habitual offender. He remains in the Okaloosa County Jail with bond set at $500,000 and is due back in court December 1 as he seeks a bail reduction.
Master Deputy Kevin Ray of Cantonment and his 15-year old daughter were traveling from Troy, Alabama, when the crash occurred on Highway 85 just east of Laurel Hill, Florida, at 8:40 p.m. on October 15.
Ray was pronounced deceased at the scene and his daughter was airlifted to an area hospital where she continues to recover. The 2012 white Dodge bucket truck driven by Parker overturned multiple times, destroying utility poles before coming to rest in a field in the southwest corner of the intersection.
“There were beer cans near the passenger door of the Dodge truck that were in the pickup and thrown while overturning,” the investigating trooper wrote in an arrest report obtained by NorthEscambia.com.
“When the witness rolled up on the crash, Tristen Cole Parker had self-extricated from his vehicle but identified himself as the sole occupant and operator of the suspect vehicle,” the report states. “While being treated on scene by Okaloosa County Fireman Paramedic (redacted), Tristen Cole Parker admitted to consuming 3 to 4 alcohol beverages prior to the collision. (The paramedic) also smelled an odor of alcohol coming from Tristan Cole Parker while he was speaking.”
Parker was transported to an area hospital for treatment.
“During conversation with Tristen Cole Parker, Mr. Parker spontaneously uttered to (the trooper) that he had 2 or 3 ‘beers’ prior to the collision’,” the report continues. Despite initial consent for a voluntary blood draw, Parker refused to provide the blood sample when hospital staff arrived in his room.
A FHP traffic homicide investigator also noted that Parker had bulged eyes, slurred speech, a dry mouth, thick tongue, flushed face and smelled of alcohol in the emergency room. The investigator said Parker had labored breathing, slow deliberate movements and repeated himself.
FHP said Parker’s certified driving record from Texas showed multiple convictions for driving with suspended license in that state.
Ray had been a member of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office family for over 20 years. He had been assigned to courthouse security for over a decade.
Written by William Reynolds · Filed Under TOP STORIES