Hillsborough deputy accused in 2 hit-and-runs in Pinellas County

(Credit: Kevin McGarry)

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Neighbors say it sounded like multiple explosions.

A Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy is accused of going on a crash rampage in Pinellas County.

“I’ve never seen such an impact, heard such an explosion in my life,” said neighbor Kevin McGarry, who ran out to see what happened.

He snapped pictures with his cell phone, showing a truck overturned in a church parking lot and another truck smashed into a fence, its wheel torn off.

“It was incredible. For two pickup trucks, especially pickup trucks to both be destroyed as much as they were, the deputy was flying,” said McGarry.

FHP investigators believe Hillsborough deputy James Paes hit a car a mile north of the second crash scene, then took off, driving fast, south on 131st Street, where he hit another truck and a SUV.

“It was such a noise, the whole neighborhood came out,” said June Zitman.

She got to the crash scene before emergency workers.

(Credit: Kevin McGarry)

“We heard this explosion, like three big explosions, bang, bang, bang! So I ran out and said, ‘that’s an accident,’ because they always happen at the corner,” said Zitman.

The crash happened behind Jim Boeggeman’s house. He said he saw the deputy behind the wheel, then later in his yard.

“He did say that he was not driving the truck,” said Boeggeman.

Cops didn’t buy it. Boggeman watched as Largo officers tried to arrest Paes.

“I did hear the Largo P.D. tell him to get on his stomach or they were gonna taze him,” he said.

Deputy James Paes will likely be fired.

Investigators are waiting for results from his blood work to see if he was drunk.

(Credit: Kevin McGarry)

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