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Cesar Rojas Is Killed in Hit-and-Run on SR100; Driver and Passenger Have a History

| December 20, 2015

cesar rojas hit and run

Christopher Layer, right, told police he was at the wheel when his car struck and killed Cesar Rojas on SR 100 Saturday morning. He was driving on a suspended license. His alleged passenger, Sean Bertram, a felon, has a similar record of arrests for driving on a suspended license and other charges.

Last Updated: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Cesar Rojas of Flagler Beach, who was walking on State Road 100 at half past midnight Saturday morning, was struck by a man who with a repeat record of driving on a suspended license and other crimes.

Joseph J. Layer, the 32-year-old driver who told police he struck Rojas, later called in the collision to 911, but only to report that a man had been struck–not that Layer had struck him. Layer, according to authorities, later again called 911 and said he would turn himself in. He said he had a suspended driver’s license and had been scared to own up to the crash.

Rojas was flown to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, where he died.

The collision took place in the westbound lanes of State Road 100 at the intersection with John Anderson Highway, across from the CVS pharmacy. According to the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation, Rojas was crossing 100, going north, when he was struck. A witness told police of seeing a gray four-door car striking the victim, who ended up in the middle of the westbound lanes. Jacksonville’s Trauma One emergency helicopter flew the victim to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach.

Layer eventually turned himself in to FHP Cpl. Pete Young. The vehicle involved was a 2008 Toyota XD.

Layer, previously of 424 Bryan Street, has an arrest record dating back to 2002 and 2003, when he was found guilty of a minor drug possession charge and, on a separate occasion, of using an unassigned tag. In 2006 he was placed on probation over a worthless check charge. In 2013 he was arrested on a charge of driving on a suspended license and pot possession, and was placed on probation.

Layer, according to the FHP report, had a passenger with him: Sean Bertram, last of 14 Pine Croft Lane in Palm Coast, who was arrested in 2012 on a charge of drunk driving, driving on a suspended license with knowledge, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Two weeks before that arrest, he’d been arrested on a charge of willful and wanton reckless driving, and driving on a revoked license. He was found guilty of the drunk driving charge, guilty of driving on a revoked license and guilty on one count of possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony. His license was revoked and he was placed on drug-offender probation. Probation ended last June.

In 2005, Bertram had been found guilty of three similar charges: habitual driving on a suspended license (a third-degree felony), reckless driving, and driving on an expired registration longer than six months. He served three months in jail and was placed on probation.

In 2004, he was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, and was placed on probation, which he violated. Bertram also has numerous traffic citations since 2003, according to court records.

Charges are pending in Saturday’s fatal wreck. The investigation is preliminary. No arrests have been made. Leaving the scene of an accident where a death has occurred is a first-degree felony.

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33 Responses for “Cesar Rojas Is Killed in Hit-and-Run on SR100; Driver and Passenger Have a History”

  1. wow-really says:

    THE MAN CALLED 911 AT LEAST BUT HE SHOULD HAVE STAYED AND FACED THE CONSEQUENCES AT THE TIME, NOW HE WILL DO MORE TIME FOR BEING SHADY.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a sad story. May this person rest in peace. It is terrible that someone could do this and leave the scene. I wonder if there was any way the person wouldn’t have died had help been called.

  3. Geezer says:

    Make yourself visible when walking about at night by wearing a reflective vest.
    It can’t hurt to wear a headlamp also. I used to take walks at night when summertime
    heat made walking 3 – 5 miles unpleasant. It’s DEADLY to walk at night without
    these precautions. There’s drunks, there’s texters, and older folks with poor
    night vision commandeering motor vehicles.

    The vests are much like what the Target and Walmart shopping cart collectors wear.
    The headlamp I use is made by Energizer.

    I don’t know the exact circumstances relating to this tragedy, but I thought that
    sharing these ideas may help someone, somewhere.

    Merry Christmas to Flaglerlive and all of my fellow commenters!
    I hope that Santa remembers you all.

  4. Cecilia says:

    I knew this man. He was a friend of mine! The world is a bit dimmer for losing this man who brought joy to his little piece of the world! I am so sorry for the loss! I offer my prayer to his family and friends for healing to begin!

  5. GM2 says:

    Sounds strangely reminesicent of the case of Jamiesine Fisher a couple of years ago. She hit a pedestrian and then claimed the pedestrian merely fell. About 11 1/2 hours later (plenty of time to sober up), she turned herself in and admitted to hitting the pedestrian but claimed she thought it was a dog. She also had a confirmed history of alcohol abuse. . . . H M M M

    Fisher copped a plea and was incarcerated for 25 months (she’s probably out now on good behavior) followed by 10 years of alcohol-free probation, Fisher’s insurance company quickly settled with the victim’s family for 1.25 million dollars.

    I see some common threads . . . .

  6. Kathy Goddard says:

    I knew this man also, he was a good man and brought a lot of joy to the people who new him here ar Beach Village,he will be greatly missed by all of use who’s heart’s he touched. I’m very sorry to the family some of them I knew for their loss,my love to you Caser I will miss your smile and laugh and daily hugs.

  7. confidential says:

    Very sad specially for the Holidays. My prayers for Cesar and his family…God may be with him.

  8. Geezer says:

    Sr. Cesar Rojas: Descansa en Paz.
    Mi más sentido pesame a la familia Rojas y a los amigos del difunto.

    My sympathies to Cesar’s family and friends.

  9. mel guillory says:

    Tragic story when a pedestrian is hit, but the majority of fault is on the pedestrian. If the pedestrian crossing the road is killed by a sober driver it is an accident and blame placed on the pedestrian. Was he crossing the highway in a crosswalk? Was he wearing bright reflective clothing probably not.

    Now you have a driver that has consumed alcohol and this same situation that was unavoidable in the first scenario is now considered D.U.I manslaughter. You have the unskilled driver that has a fatal accident and it is just that an accident, no charges, but you have a driver that has consumed alcohol in moderation wth no accident but is over the limit and he is put through the ringer because he could have caused a fatally.

  10. Anna says:

    just want say that cedar was my next door neighbor had been for little over three years he was like a father to me I often helped him with many different tasks and enjoyed doing it I am really going miss him cesar please rest in peace every time I come out my door and go in I will remember you and our many talks we had God bless you and family 2107

  11. Anonymous says:

    why does the passenger have his history brought up here if he wasn’t driving or wasn’t arrested? just curious?….

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Because the passenger’s criminal history is relevant to the the circumstances of the hit-and-run: FHP must rely on the driver’s word that he was, in fact, at the wheel, while considering the possibility that the two men switched roles.

  12. liberal says:

    Geezer has a great idea. Those reflective vests can be bought on Amazon for $3.50, mine did. Headlamp is about $20 at Target, Walmart etc. I’d buy a stack of them and give them to my neighbors walking their dogs at midnight, where there are no streetlights or sidewalks. They usually wear dark clothes too. I don’t get it…

  13. Gee eye says:

    Gosh just because he is white do you have to bring up his criminal history and make him look like a criminal?! Rip….

    P.s. hope pun is understood. Not directed at author.

  14. Safety first says:

    How many more good people need to die before the city, county, state or the country make tougher laws for people that get away with the repeated crimes. Now these 2 guys are going to jail for a long time because no one showed them any respect or responsibility. People like this need to be put in the military for ten years or more until they learn to respect and be responsible. R.I.P. To you yo yo.

  15. GM2 says:

    Mel Guillory –

    If he consumed alcohol “in moderation”, how would he be “over the limit”?

  16. Jadobi says:

    @mel guillory

    In Florida, a person can be under the influence and NOT at fault for a crash. When this occurs, the charge is simply DUI. The drunk wouldn’t be at fault for the death, so there is no manslaughter charge. Its happened here in Flagler before, I’ve seen it where I work too.

  17. Chris says:

    So I’m 21 now n I’m Cesar grandson with no charges agianst me so I can be drunk driving and kill someone n it’s only a DUI!?… No it’s not. Depending how fast n ignorant the driver was to hitting someone period is there fault for reckless driving once agian like they have in the past. It’s not only a DUI it’s more than a DUI. When they have previous DUI and suspended license. They knew they shouldn’t have been driving n knew they was in the wrong expecailly a hit and run so get your facts right n read ALL the facts above n you will kno it’s not just a DUI those lowlifes will get. n honestly 2-10 people even wear a reflecting vest… N to just walk across the street to my uncles n gets struck n left there to die till whoever say him after n helped him.

  18. Chris says:

    Put it this way if this was your uncle aunt mother or father? Would u say your loved one should have been wearing a reflecting vest? Then get hit left to die n then the person that hit him keeps going? Put your feet in my family’s an my shoe.

  19. Geezer says:

    Chris:

    Cesar’s accident was caused by a careless driver with a bad track record.
    It was IN NO WAY Cesar Rojas’ fault, nor was that implied in any fashion.

    My suggestion of a reflective vest is for people to consider, and hopefully help prevent
    future tragedies. But if there’s a drunk, or texter – the vest and headlamp mean nothing.
    Many people don’t even know that these items are widely available locally, e.g: Walmart.

    I do understand your anger, and I have lost more than my share of loved ones.

    This is life, and life is a struggle to the end.
    I hope that you find the strength to get through this.
    (I know you will)

  20. Chris says:

    Yes we all have to go someday but not out like my grandpa did. Never bothered anyone just a pedestrian walkin to his nephew house on john anderson. No over the bridge to a bar or fuegos. he might of been bored at 2 am, He barely slept. I’m done talking justice will be served severely n maybe they could make an example out these two people for the future in Flagler county.

  21. scott says:

    Tell me where in this article it says anything about the driver being drunk?

  22. beta says:

    Prayers to Cesar’s family and friends. Driving is a privilege, and a great responsibility. No different than carrying a gun. Lets all learn something from this and be more patient, aware, considerate and completely sober when driving. The responsibility is on the driver, not a pedestrian to wear a vest or a headlamp.

  23. LILLIAN NEGRON says:

    I AM CESAR ROJAS NIECE HE WAS A LOVING KIND HEART OF GOLD MAN ,NO ONE DESERVE 2 DIED THE WAY HE DID AND YES I HOPE THEY GET LIFE 4 TAKING OUR,S AWAY IS NOT RITE ,WE WILL MISS U TIO U R IN THE RITE PLACE NOW WITH JESUS THOSE 2 R GOING 2 HELL 4 MURDER AND THAT THE FACT AND THE TRUE THEY WILL BE FEED IN JAIL TV GOT IT MADE ,WE LOST OUR DEARLY TIO 4 EVER GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF THIS THAT,S 4 SURE

  24. Ariana says:

    To Mel Guillory, I don’t know where you get your info from, but it is incorrect. That intersection where he was walking? THAT intersection is FOR crossing to get to the Publix shopping plaza right there. If he was heading North, that is the exact direction he was going in. So anyone that is local to the area is aware that pedestrians cross there….

    To say that this was HIS OWN FAULT for getting hit by a car is a terribly ignorant thing to say. It is also hurtful to those friends and family that are left behind–I see no valid point to your comment, other than to weakly try to defend people who are prosecuted for drinking and driving. Not the horse you should probably back, just a thought…

    And, might I point out, that since the driver had a suspended license, he shouldn’t even have BEEN behind the wheel. If he had obeyed the law and stayed his suspended-license-having-behind home until he could get his license issues resolved like the LAW SAYS HE SHOULD, that good man that was walking along minding his own business would still be here with us today.

    As for those trying to defend the driver and making statements that he wasn’t under the influence of anything at the time of the accident…we will never know. He did not stay at the scene, and did not turn himself in until later in this instance. Was it really because he had no license? Was it because he was under the influence and wanted to wait until he was within “legal limits”?

    I don’t know, and neither do you. What I DO know, is that he hit a man, while driving a car that he was not supposed to be driving, and then left the scene of an accident. He needs to be charged with everything, because the very fact that he has such an extensive record and is still out driving around despite what the law has said on the matter means he has NO REGARD for the law, and has LEARNED NOTHING.

    SInce he learned nothing from losing his license, maybe all you can take away now is his FREEDOM? Let him sit in prison for awhile… It will give him time to think of the devastation he has caused a family/community for what should be a joyous holiday season…..

  25. GM2 says:

    I’M WITH YOU ARIANA. VERY WELL SAID.

    I SAY THERE IS REASON TO SUSPECT THAT HE DIDN’T STAY AT THE SCENE BUT TURNED HIMSELF IN LATER TO ALLOW HIMSELF TIME TO SOBER UP.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS !

  26. Betty Boop says:

    For those who thinks that it’s ok for a person to be behind a wheel with a suspended license and driving under the influence, it’s because you’re one of those people. Now, these two gentlemen, who caused this major tragedy, are repeated offenders and had no business being behind a wheel. Maybe if this person would have taken his life more seriously and do the right thing, maybe this person would have been alive today. It wasn’t this person’s first time walking from his nephew’s house late at night and he always made it home safely. But it only took that one time, where he didn’t know that he wasn’t going to make it back home. There’s always a first time when a person would get behind a wheel with a suspended license or drive under the influence and seem to get away with it, but th

  27. Betty Boop says:

    But that one time, took someone’s life away. So, for those of you who are talking with ignorance, please show a little respect for the family who have just lost a special someone in their lives. If you would have lost someone in this kind of way, you would know where we are coming from. Cesar, on your very last day, I saw your tragic scene and just can’t seem to get that image off my mind. Every time I think about it, I just start to cry. Cesar, I would never forget our happy moments, from California, to New York and now in Florida. Your goofy moments and always making someone laugh, will never be forgotten. It’s going to be so hard just to think how you would never be around, especially to put a smile on someone’s face. God bless you Cesar, you’re in a better place now and may you rest in peace. We love you and you will always remain in our hearts. What a way to celebrate our holiday….HOPE JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED!

  28. GM2 says:

    SCOTT –

    IT DOESN’T SAY IN THE ARTICLE, I’M JUST CURIOUS WHY 1. HE LEFT THE SCENE, 2. HE CALLED IN ONLY TO SAY THAT A PERSON WAS STRUCK (NOT THAT HE WAS THE ONE WHO STRUCK HIM). AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, 3.HE WAITED FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD OF TIME TO ADMIT TO THE CRIME AND TURN HIMSELF IN. DOESN’T THIS SOUND SUSPICIOUS TO YOU, GIVEN THE FACT THAT HE HAS A RECORD OF DUI AND DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE?

  29. confidential says:

    Until the Florida law makers(legislators) in Tallahassee will come up with the proper and harsh sentences for drivers killing or hurting pedestrians, cyclist, motorcyclists or wildlife, this murderous trend will not end as they just so far only receive a wrist slap…for taking a life. Also they are given low bails by these judges and go home to wait for trial. NO deterrent at all!

  30. Scoobydoo says:

    California– 3 strike rule=life
    Florida— 3 strike rule= 3 more mulligans and than will see

  31. Safety first says:

    That driver got on the sidewalk and hit this person and will get away with this, maybe when they start running over the law makers of this county or state maybe they will start changing the laws. I can not believe that it is ok to be drunk or on drugs and run over somebody on the sidewalk and get away with this. I’m going to sale my home and leave Palm coast because criminals have license to KILL with suspended license and I will let very body know that it’s true unless justice is served the way it should. Why I say drunk or on drugs because no body that is sober will be speeding jump on the sidewalk hit someone and keep going. That’s why I say this. Please let me know if you know someone that would be sober and do such a thing and I ha be a bridge to sell up. To you yo yo represent.

  32. Mary Hernandez says:

    Hello Flaglerlive, I have known Caesar Rojas for about five years. I’m like family to the Rojas .When I received the phone call, that Ceasar had been killed in a hit and run, I was devastated.His life was cut short because of a reckless driver.Caesar was a wonderful person. He was always lovable,caring, smiling, joking,great sense of humor,laughing and just full of joy! He enjoyed fishing,family time and lived life to the fullest. He was a helping hand when needed.He leaves behind daughters,grandchildren,great grandchildren,siblings,nieces, nephews,sister in-laws and friends that are like family. This tragedy will be extremely difficult for the family, especially during the holidays. We will have an empty chair without ceasar sitting in the dinning room table area while eating our Christmas dinner because of two criminals. However, I believe in the Lord that justice will be served! You will be truly missed Caesar! We love you and see you later in heaven!

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