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Dear Colonel Knight,

Please accept my deepest thanks and acknowledgements for Captain Ryan Burchnell and Major Cyrus Brown taking the time to address many issues my husband and I struggled with regarding the death of our son, Jay Tyler Sappington. Jay was almost 22 years old on July 1, 2005 as he attempted to cross S.R. 50 in Orlando on foot and was struck by a car. Since then, we have had many concerns about the events surrounding his death, the way he was treated that night by FHP, and the subsequent investigations.

Despite efforts soon after his death and up through April, 2006, to meet with FHP, we did not get answers until last week. One phone message to Major Brown on Monday, March 26, 2007, and a follow-up e-mail , also to Major Brown, led to follow-through by Captain Burchnell. He looked into each and every unresolved issue we had, got facts, patiently explained the standards for criminal evidence, the actions of the crash site investigator, the traffic homicide investigator, the reports from the interviews, interactions with the State Attorney's Office, how to request crash site photos if we choose to do so, what happened with efforts to locate the driver, why FHP did not know the driver's license had been suspended and he had no insurance, and many aspects of the evening our son died that pertain to the people he was with before he left on foot. Captain Burchnell called three times to continue to provide more answers as his research progressed, sensitive to our struggle as we waited so long already.

As a public servant, I value citizens' respect and support. Therefore, it was extra painful for me to have my doubts about FHP. Now that relationship is back where it was, with the proper regard for everything you and all law enforcement organizations do that can be so difficult, dangerous and painful, but you do it to make the world the best place it can be, and I thank you and commend you on behalf of my son, my husband, myself and the rest of the family. May your team go from strength to strength, be safe and effective in all that you do.


Roberta Sappington, Ph.D.,
Ormond Beach, FL


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