PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Family of 21-year-old Brittany Beni opened up, Sunday, more than 9-months after the crash that took her life.
Investigators say they've arrested the man who fled the Port Charlotte crash on foot last December, leaving Brittany Beni and Wesley Chery dead inside the car. Troopers have arrested 23-year-old Michel Brutus of Port Charlotte and charged him with 2 counts of Leaving the Scene of a Crash involving Death, Leaving the Scene with Property Damage, and False Information to Law Enforcement during an investigation.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, Brutus was behind the wheel during the single-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 near Harbor Boulevard back on December 5th, 2016. Troopers initially believed one of the two victims was behind the wheel at the time, but announced in August that they were searching for an unknown driver who fled the scene before troopers arrived.
Both Beni and Wesley had birthdays last week. Friends and family left balloons and flowers at the crash site. Brittany's mom, Linda Beni, says with this arrest, they finally have some closure. "She was amazing. She was top of her class, she graduated Cum Laude from Charlotte High School, she was getting ready to go into the nursing program. She had a smile on her, she lit up the room everywhere she went," said Linda. "I think it gives my family, the Chery family a little bit of peace knowing he's behind bars now."
DNA evidence on the airbag of the car connected Brutus to the crime. He was given an $80,000 bond, although the family hopes he remains in jail. "To think he could live 9 and a half months and sleep at night after what he did to his friends, it's unforgivable," said Linda.
Linda is now involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and has organized a team to walk in the SWFL Walk Like MADD and 5K Dash 2017 under the name 'Team Justice for Brittany Lynn.' You can make a donation to MADD in Brittany's name on their website.
Brittany had Type-1 Diabetes since childhood, and the family has also established a scholarship fund to help other kids with Type 1 Diabetes that attend the Florida Diabetes Camp. You can donate to that fund here.
Brutus' next court date will be on October 30th. The family plans to attend.