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Man facing vehicular homicide charges dies

By Staff | Feb 2, 2016

A Cape Coral driver facing vehicular homicide died just weeks before his case went to trial.

Jason William Stewart, 45, of 3619 N.E. 18th Ave., was pronounced dead on Wednesday at 5 p.m. by doctors at Cape Coral Hospital, where he was taken after he fell down on East Gator Circle.

According to a report, police responded to a death investigation at Gator Circle and De Navarra Parkway. A witness stated that he saw a man, identified as Stewart, stumbling across Gator Circle and he asked him if he was OK. Stewart replied with a vulgar expression and took a few more steps.

Stewart then fell down, got up and fell down a second time, landing face-down in a puddle.

A second witness told police that she was driving by when Stewart fell the first time. When he stood up, she noticed a contusion on his head. She watched him take a couple more steps before falling again. The witness exited her vehicle and approached Stewart, flipping him over to immediately start CPR.

She continued to give CPR to Stewart until the paramedics arrived, according to the report.

Stewart was transported to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead.

On Feb. 29, Stewart was set to go to trial on the charges of homicide negligent manslaughter with vehicle killing of person or viable fetus with vehicle and reckless driving damage person or property. He was charged in the Sept. 28, 2014, death of William Scott Johnsen on Diplomat Parkway East.

Attorney Joseph Viacava was representing Stewart in the case.

He was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

According to police, on Sept. 28, 2014, Stewart was driving east on Diplomat in the outside lane in a Chevrolet Corvette. At about 3:37 p.m., the front end of the vehicle struck the back tire of a bicyclist – Johnsen, 60, of 3506 S.E. 10th Place – in the 600 block. He also was headed east in the outside lane.

Johnsen was “totally ejected” and thrown onto the windshield of the Corvette, a report stated.

Stewart reportedly failed to observe the bicyclist.

The vehicle then left the roadway and entered an empty field on the south side of Diplomat. It continued to travel east, where Johnsen was ejected from the Corvette and landed in a ditch.

According to the report, the vehicle drove back onto the eastbound lanes of Diplomat, then crossed over all of those lanes and entered the grass median. The Corvette next traveled across the westbound lanes and entered another empty field to the north of Diplomat, where it finally came to its final rest.

Johnsen died on scene as a result of the injuries that he sustained.

At the time of the crash, he was wearing a helmet and had safety lights on.

Stewart was treated for minor injuries, but declined further treatment. A passenger in the Corvette was treated on scene for non-life threatening injuries, taken to Lee Memorial Hospital and later released.

Police stated that neither alcohol nor drugs were a factor in the crash.

According to the report, Stewart and Johnsen were negotiating a left turn in the roadway when the accident occurred. Stewart was traveling an estimated 100 mph – the posted speed is 45 mph.

In January 2015, Stewart was taken into custody on a warrant. The State Attorney’s Office issued the warrant for his arrest after receiving the completed investigation into the 2014 accident. The charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving damage person or property were formally filed against him.

According to the Lee County Clerk of Courts, Stewart had a history of traffic infractions. Earlier in 2014, he was cited for failing to obey a traffic control device; adjudication withheld for traffic school. In 2013, Stewart was found guilty of DUI; a charge of taking part in an unlawful race was dropped.

In 2012, Stewart was found guilty of reckless driving and a traffic infraction of speed in excess of 50 mph. The year before that, he was cited for speed unlawful interstate and for a traffic control device red light. Adjudication was withheld on both infractions for traffic school, according to the court records.

He has been cited for overtaking on right and, again, for failing to obey a traffic control device.

A family member of Johnsen’s declined to comment on Tuesday.