The driver of a Tampa Water Department truck was on duty but using the vehicle to visit family Thursday when a toddler darted into his path and was struck and killed, a city spokeswoman said.
Police have called the death of 2-year-old Demetrick Lindsey an accident. The driver, city utility technician Robert Fennell, 48, could not avoid hitting the boy, who somehow ran away from a babysitter, police said.
Fennell has not been issued a citation but may face discipline at work for using the truck for personal reasons, the city said.
Also, police don’t know yet whether charges will be filed against the babysitter. Police spokeswoman Janelle McGreggor said officials are investigating if “a crime related to the care of the child occurred.”
The incident happened about 8:40 p.m. as Fennell was pulling out of Tampa Park Apartments near Ybor City, police said.
A family friend was watching Demetrick while the boy’s mother ran errands, said Ali Muhammad, the boy’s cousin. The friend was holding Demetric, but at some point the child got loose, Muhammad said.
Fennell was driving at a slow speed when the child was struck, police said. He stopped and attempted to render aid.
Fennell, who has been employed by the water department since 2006, drives the vehicle to and from work as he responds throughout the night to water-related emergencies, city spokeswoman Ali Glisson said.
City policy prohibits him from using the truck for personal reasons. On Thursday night between work orders, Fennell drove to the apartment complex, off Seventh Avenue and Nuccio Parkway, to visit family, Glisson said.
Fennell will not be driving a city vehicle until police complete the investigation, Glisson said. The city will then take appropriate disciplinary action, she said.