ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida Republican congressional hopeful David Jolly said his faith was tested by a 1989 car crash in which he fatally struck a pedestrian.
St. Petersburg, Fla., station WTSP-TV (http://on.wtsp.com/1dteVXL) reported late Monday on the crash. Jolly is in a tight race with Democrat Alex Sink to replace the late Rep. Bill Young in Florida's swing-voting 13th Congressional District.
"It was a tragedy that occurred when I was a child," Jolly said of the crash.
He was 16 years old at the time, driving home from the movies with a friend when he hit Blair Warren Ropes, who was walking in the road. Ropes' motorcycle had broken down. Jolly was not cited in the crash and he said he was "exonerated of any culpability."
"I'll be honest, for several years it challenged my faith. I questioned how such things could happen, but tragedy occurs," Jolly said.
Jolly questioned why the station would report on the crash during a high-stakes election.
"I don't know who has pushed this story, but I believe it to be a heartless individual who has clearly never lost anyone close to them or experienced such a tragedy," he said. "For someone to bring this up 25 years later in a political campaign ... disrespects what ultimately is a human tragedy that no one should ever have to experience."
The March 11 special election has spurred a multimillion-dollar ad war being financed by both political parties and outside groups. Republicans have attacked Sink over President Barack Obama's health care law, while Democrats have linked Jolly to the GOP's far-right.
Information from: WTSP-TV, http://www.wtsp.com/