Man who hit Gavin Conroy’s car has bond revoked


Clifford Ringer is behind bars after a judge revoked his bond, citing a recent traffic ticket for running a red light.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man with a decades-long history of traffic violations and license suspensions is in jail after a judge revoked his bond Monday morning. Prosecutors asked for the revocation after Clifford Ringer received a ticket July 2 for running a red light, which they said violated the terms of his pretrial release.

Ringer, 40, is charged in an April crash in Clay County that left 23-year-old Gavin Conroy with severe burns over 93 percent of his body. Those injuries have, in turn, required doctors to amputate both of his legs and several fingers. Ringer is charged with two counts related to driving on a suspended license in an accident that caused injury. He has pleaded not guilty.

Conroy’s family and friends, who packed the courtroom Monday morning, celebrated the judge’s order. “I feel a little bit of relief knowing he is off the streets,” said his aunt, Stacie Whitlatch. “Knowing that he is finally behind bars. which is where he should’ve been in the first place.”

A First Coast News investigation found Ringer has received more than 40 tickets over three decades, for charges ranging from reckless driving to DUI. Reports indicate he was discovered by police passed out and non-responsive behind the wheel of his car on two other occasions. His license has been mostly suspended since 2011, and was suspended at the time of the April 14 crash, though court records show it was reinstated April 22.

RELATED: Man charged in fiery Clay County crash has 40 citations, DUI, license suspended on and off since 2011

First Coast News reached out last week to prosecutors, judges and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for comment. None responded, but two days later, the State Attorney’s Office filed the motion to revoke Ringer’s bond. “The defendant has demonstrated himself to be a danger to the community and therefore is in violation of his pre-trial release conditions,” the motion said.

“Your honor, quite frankly , it’s a slap in the face for the State Attorney’s Office, to the victim’s family, to the victim, and to this court, ” Assistant State Attorney Hector Murcia-Bustos told the judge. “We have an individual who continues to drive not following the laws of the state of Florida  and continues to put the community in danger.”

Ringers’ attorney argued the red-light ticket was a civil violation, not a criminal one, and therefore not a violation of the terms of his release. But he said Ringer would willingly surrender his license if that would satisfy the court. 

But Circuit Judge Don Lester rejected that offer, and ordered him to jail, agreeing that he was “a danger to the community.”

“My nephew is in the hospital fighting for his life. Twenty-seven surgeries, amputation of the legs and amputations of the fingers,” said Whitlatch. “That’s why we’ve been here. That’s why we’ve been demanding justice and demanding he gets off that road.” 

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