Deputies: Teacher was playing ‘Pokemon Go’ when he hit 2 pedestrians

Vincent Barone. Courtesy: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – A 38-year-old middle school teacher is facing a variety of charges after deputies say he struck two pedestrians on a sidewalk Sunday afternoon in Dunedin.

Vincent Edward Barone of Clearwater admitted he ‘panicked,’ after hitting Sherman Puckett and Sheree Dean near the intersection of State Road 580 and County Road 1 at 2:20 pm. He also stated that he was playing ‘Pokemon Go,’ on his phone prior to hitting the victims. Witnesses say he did not stop to render aid and instead kept on going.

Puckett, a 29-year-old Clearwater resident, and Dean, 37, of Largo were transported to Bayfront Medical Center, where Dean is in critical condition and Puckett is in satisfactory condition.

According to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office report Barone was booked into the Pinellas County Jail where he is being held on a bond of $20,000.

He is charged with two counts of fleeing the scene of a crash involving bodily injury. His arrest affidavit says Barone is employed as a teacher at Plato Academy; his picture appears on a website for Plato’s Largo location.

Barone was apprehended by one witness who held him for law enforcement at a convenience store on Pinehurst Rd.

Investigators say Barone was traveling west on SR 580 when he suddenly veered off the roadway and onto the sidewalk where he hit the pedestrians.

Deputies do not believe speed or impairment played a factor in the crash.

The incident could cost Barone his job. Plato Academy released the following statement on Monday:

Plato Academy is aware of the charges against Mr. Barone. Plato Academy has suspended Mr. Barone without pay pending board termination.”