[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 05/22/20]
EUSTIS, Florida — A former firefighter accused of DUI manslaughter was booked into the Lake County Jail Friday afternoon.
Michael Geoffrey Downs, 30, is facing several charges in addition to the DUI manslaughter, including three counts of DUI with property damage and a count of false information on a crash report. He was booked into LCJ and released in less than an hour on $33,500 bond.
Downs, who was an engineer medic at Eustis Fire Department, and former local paramedic of the year was terminated by the City of Eustis Friday morning. He was also Deputy Chief of the volunteer Umatilla Fire Department. “He’s been removed from our volunteer services,” City of Umatilla finance director Regina Fraizer told Lake Legal News.
Downs was off-duty at the time of the three-vehicle crash and traveling eastbound in a 2016 Dodge Ram on State Road 44 when he failed to stop and struck the back of a 2017 Nissan Sentra, “propelling” it into the back of a stopped dump truck. The Nissan, being driven by Catherine Eaglin, 23, of DeLand was stopped on State Road 44, facing east, behind a 2020 dump truck being driven by William Gomes, 33, of Orlando shortly after 11:15 p.m. March 19, according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash report.
The report documents the crash happened in a construction area with workers that had advance warning and states Downs was “inattentive,” and he “operated the vehicle in a careless or negligent manner.”
Eaglin, who turned 23 just six days before the crash, was pronounced dead on the scene, and was wearing a seatbelt. Downs, of Eustis, was airlifted to Central Florida Regional Medical Center and he was not wearing a seatbelt. He has since been released from the hospital. Gomes was transported by Lake EMS to AdventHealth Waterman; he was wearing a seatbelt.
Several attempts to reach FHP Friday afternoon for a copy of the agency’s report were unsuccessful.
[ Read our original Lake Legal News article here: https://www.lakelegalnews.com/article/facebook-beer-photo-vanishes-as-local-firefighter-criminally-investigated-traffic-fatality/ and read the updated story as well: https://www.lakelegalnews.com/article/firefighters-bac-level-nearly-double-floridas-limit-dui-manslaughter-investigation-hindered-when-he-falsely-claimed-covid-19/ ]
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]