A man in Florida is accused of intentionally accelerating through a puddle of ducklings, killing two of them.
James Clairmont, 56, was allegedly driving through a mobile home park in Pinellas County, when he slowed down for a speed bump. Police say witnesses then saw Clairmont lay on the gas as he approached the shallow puddle where several ducklings were splashing about.
“At the time, there were eleven foot-tall ducklings playing in a shallow puddle in the middle of the road with mother duck,” an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com stated. “Two independent witnesses physically saw the defendant slow down for speed bump just prior to the ducklings and then quickly accelerate towards the ducklings intentionally.”
Authorities said that observers tried to stop Clairmont from racing through the puddle of ducklings, but that he ignored their shouts to slow down.
Police noted that one of the witnesses was a child.
“It was very upsetting,” Lily Simmons told local television station Bay News 9. “Especially, to the children because they just totally freaked out."
Clairmont allegedly ran over three of the ducklings. Two ducklings died on the scene and a third was transported to an animal hospital for broken bones.
“I come out of the driveway when I see the ducks squirming in the road and blood everywhere, and I just start freaking out,” teenager Sharee Young told WFLA, an NBC affiliate.
“[The duckling’s] head was cracked wide open,” she explained. “I picked him up and I held his head so it would at least help stop the bleeding. I looked up to my dad and said, ‘I don’t know what to do. What do I do with this? I don’t know what to do. I drop everything and run towards them.”
Clairmont reportedly fled the scene and retreated to his nearby mobile home. He denied seeing any ducklings in the puddle and was puzzled as to how “blood and duck feathers” got “on the wheels of his truck,” according to the affidavit.
Authorities said the 56-year-old was slurring his speech and appeared extremely intoxicated. He allegedly had red, watery eyes, and stunk of alcohol.
“We disapprove and are horrified by any intentional acts of neglect or cruelty,” Doug Brightwell, director for Pinellas County Animal Services, told Oxygen.com. “In 2019, there is no excuse for any type of act like that be acceptable.”
Brightwell, 55, whose office is responsible for investigating acts of animal cruelty, said that he was thankful for intervening bystanders, who reported Clairmont to police.
“I was grateful that witnesses were able to come forward and talk to law enforcement to identify the gentleman that did it,” Brightwell added. “Acts like that are completely unacceptable. It’s nice to see that people are willing to stand up for the safety of animals.”
Clairmont was booked shortly before midnight and has since been released after posting his $5,000 bond, according to Pinellas County online jail records. Clairmont’s court date hasn’t been scheduled yet, according to the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.
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