BREAKING: Driver in fatal Wellington crash arrested in Michigan


The man accused of causing the crash that killed a 74-year-old and two of his dogs in December along a Wellington street was arrested Thursday in Michigan, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. 

Jason K. Carter, 47, of Wellington faces charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI causing serious bodily injury and reckless driving. He is awaiting extradition from Michigan. 

MORE: Wellington widow sues drivers who struck husband while walking dogs

The sheriff’s office’s Fugitive Task Force found him in Michigan, although a sheriff’s spokeswoman said she was not sure where in the state he was found.

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John J. Stermer was walking his three dogs early Dec. 23 on the sidewalk of Big Blue Trace not far from Wellington Elementary School, sheriff’s authorities said. Carter, who was driving a 2014 Ford Mustang, reportedly sped south on Big Blue Trace and “failed to reduce his speed or take evasive action to avoid a collision” with the 2015 Jeep Wrangler that Miguel A. Portillo, 48, of Los Angeles was driving.

MORE: Wellington man, 74, killed by crashing cars while walking dogs

The Mustang rear-ended the Wrangler, causing both cars to turn and go off the road. The Wrangler went onto the sidewalk and hit Stermer and his dogs. He and two of the dogs — Gracie and Bella — were thrown in the air and died, according to sheriff’s records and Stermer’s obituary. 

Portillo was seriously injured in the wreck, the sheriff’s office said. Carter sustained minor injuries. 

In March, Stermer’s widow, Dawn, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Carter and Portillo. The lawsuit claims Carter was intoxicated at the time of the crash and going 100 mph. Her attorney on that case, Christian Searcy, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Dawn Stermer is seeking an unspecified amount of damages in connection with the loss of her husband and for the losses suffered by the couple’s two adult sons, according to court records. 

Stermer’s obituary published in The Post in July says the Baltimore native known as “Jay” was a musician who as a teenager formed the nine-piece band “The Admirals” with a high school friend. According to Stermer’s obituary, the band played backup for musicians including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. The band was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Stermer and his wife moved to Florida in 1985 and opened a dry-cleaning business, according to his obituary. 

He was preceded in death by sons Drew and Sean and survived by a daughter, Danielle, and sons, John and Evan, the obituary states. He had four grandchildren and one on the way. 



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