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Deputy to face review board
In the meantime, the deputy who hit a child will continue working.
By JOEL ANDERSON, Times Staff Writer
Published December 19, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - A Hernando County sheriff's deputy who struck an 11-year-old girl with his car moments after glancing at his laptop computer Friday will continue to work pending a decision next month from the department's vehicle damage review board.
Deputy Julio Tagliani will face the internal review board at its next meeting, which should take place sometime in early January, Sheriff Richard Nugent said Tuesday.
Tagliani was westbound on Thrasher Avenue in northwest Hernando County in the fog about 6:30 a.m. Friday when he hit the girl as she waited for a school bus near her home on Mount Sparrow Road, a Sheriff's Office report said.
Tagliani, 30, told investigators he briefly looked down at the computer in his car and when he looked up, saw the girl and was unable to avoid hitting her. The girl was thrown onto the hood of the vehicle and tumbled into the dirt road, the report said.
Paramedics treated the girl for pain in her left leg at the scene of the collision and then took her to Oak Hill Hospital, where she received more treatment for bruises and was later released.
Nugent, who suspended several deputies this week for their involvement in a chase for a stolen vehicle on Thursday, said the officers are repeatedly warned to avoid distractions while driving.
"They are supposed to use due caution," Nugent said. "It's like anything else, like using a cell phone. ... A laptop is the same thing. They can distract you, and you have to keep your eyes open."
Nugent said he was relieved the girl didn't suffer more serious injuries, mostly because Tagliani was driving well below the posted speed limit of 35. The report said Tagliani was driving about 22 mph and hit the brakes roughly 21 feet before hitting the girl. His car came to a rest about 28 feet after contact.
"Thank God he wasn't doing 35," Nugent said.
After an initial investigation, the Sheriff's Office ruled both Tagliani and the girl were at fault for the accident - Tagliani for briefly turning attention away from the road in the midst of heavy fog and the girl for standing in the road. The girl was about 7 feet from a grassy area on the north shoulder of the road, which has no defined curbs or sidewalks, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Black said Friday.
Two messages left at the office of the girl's attorney, Teresa Williams of Clearwater, and at the home of the grandmother, Wanda Parfitt of Weeki Wachee, were not returned Tuesday. Williams has advised the Sheriff's Office to make no more contact with the girl and her family, according to Nugent and a report by the Sheriff's Office.
Tagliani has no record of previous traffic crashes or incidents as a deputy. He started with the department on March 11 and received a merit pay raise Nov. 11.