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John Steele Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Hit-and-Run Death of Sean Lynn Ryan

| February 12, 2015

John D. Steele.

John D. Steele.

Early on a December morning in 2012, Sean Lynn Ryan, a 25-year-old, almost-lifelong resident of Flagler County and a young father, was walking along U.S. 1 near Plantation Bay when John D. Steele, driving an SUV, struck Ryan and killed him.


Steele kept going. He would later tell his insurer that he thought he’d hit a deer.

Even then, the law require that he stops. Had Steel stopped and looked into what had taken place, he might have been cited for reckless driving and been fined, but the matter would have likely ended there–unless he was drunk, in which case the penalty would have been more severe.

But he kept driving.

It took an intense investigation led by then-Florida Highway Patrol trooper Randy Naugher. But a year later, armed with DNA and other evidence, Naugher’s investigation led to Steele’s arrest.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, with a death, a first-degree felony.

Thursday afternoon, Flagler County Circuit Judge J. David Walsh sentenced Steele to five years in prison and eight years’ probation. The sentence followed a relatively brief hearing in which Steele, a Daytona Beach resident, apologized to Ryan’s family and asked them to pray for him. He alone spoke on his behalf.

“I want to apologize to the parents wholost a son due to my actions. While I honestly did not see him when I struck him with my car almost two years ago, I do take responsibility for the consequences of my actions. When I finally realized what I had done, I have regretted that night ever since. I am truly sorry. I want to humbly apologize to all of you for what I did, to cause you to lose your son. I realize that nothing that I can say can make him return to you, but please know from the bottom of my heart that I’m sorry, and I ask for your prayers–”

At this point, Steele was overcome with emotion, paused, cried, and continued, with difficulty, saying he would serve his time and ask God to give the family of Ryan the strength to go on with their lives. “I ask you to forgive me,” he said, concluding.

[This is a developing story. More soon.]

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13 Responses for “John Steele Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Hit-and-Run Death of Sean Lynn Ryan”

  1. Gia says:

    5 years?…a bargain

  2. ted bundy says:

    no doubt he was impaired and ran to avoid a 20 year sentence..

  3. David S. says:

    He deserves more time.

  4. ohrin says:

    EVIDENCE MUST NOT HAVE BEEN TOO STRONG, 5 YEARS FOR OBVIOUSLY ACCIDENTAL MURDER AND THEN 8 YEARS PROBATION. CRIMINALS WILL NEVER STOP NOW AFTER HITTING A HUMAN BEING.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was enough evidence.. It’s 4.4quadrillian percent that someone’s DNA ends up inside your vehicle.we no he tried to cover it all up..my son, nor anybody else’s , kid, mom, dad, uncle, aunt, or friend should have to have thief lives taken an left like that

  5. jadobi says:

    No doubt 5 years is a pittance of a sentence. I am disgusted that so many people pull the “God” card when they are found guilty. Many convicted are only sorry they were caught.

    I can tell you a reasonable person would stop, not only to see what they hit, but at a minimum to checck on the damage to their car. His lack of staying tells me he knew what he hit.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So, 3 years for Fisher, 5 years for this guy. I’m seeing a pattern of light sentences for hit & run homicides in Flagler County.

    This is why the punishment for hit & run homicides needs to be increased, because when they flee, we can never determine whether alcohol was a factor. The evidence is incomplete.

    • Anonymous says:

      ^ edit, Even more outrageously, Fischer was actually only sentenced to 25 months, and a search of the DOC inmate list shows she is no longer incarcerated. What’s strange about that case is that, as a condition of her probation, Fischer is to abstain from alcohol. Since that wasn’t a DUI homicide case, it’s just curious that her alcohol use was even relevant.

      According to the Flagler Live article on Fischer, the mandatory minimum sentence for hit & run homicide is only 21 months! Time to close this ridiculous loophole. If you cause an accident with bodily injury and drive off, perhaps because you are in shock, you still must return in a reasonable amount of time, otherwise it suggests that you are obfuscating evidence to get out of REAL trouble. Some people get more prison time for non-violent offenses in this state.

    • John Smallberries says:

      Fischer’s sentence might have had more to do with the fact that she is an older white woman with a politically connected husband that had friends in law enforcement. i.e. a sheriff.

      • Ray Thorne says:

        Doubt it since the Sheriff at the time was interviewed during the investigation that was conducted by a different law enforcement agency and apparently he had told Mr Fischer to call and report the incident even though at the time he only knew what Mr Fischer had told him…..that his wife may have struck an animal which quite possibly could be what Mrs Fischer told Mr Fischer before the call was made to the Sheriff.

  7. stand for Jesus says:

    He got off easy huh? here is a little sentencing disparity,Jamesine Fischer Is Sentenced to 25 Months in Prison for Hit-and-Run Death of Pecqueur. I guess he didnt have a connection with law enforcement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Neither one of them got enough time in my opinion, but Steele did hide for a whole year before they arrested him. This suggests a total lack of conscience.

  8. Jack says:

    Leaving the scene of an accident should be a mandatory 20 years sentence no matter what you hit!

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