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St. Pete family joins others fighting for stricter penalties against unlicensed teen driving

87-year-old Denry Gayle was killed two days after Thanksgiving by a 17-year-old who shouldn't have been behind the wheel.

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three families are fighting back after their loved ones were killed by unlicensed teenage drivers.

All of this is in an effort to keep other drivers safe on the roads and prevent another tragedy. They want stricter penalties against teenagers who drive without a license and their parents, who police say are knowingly letting them get behind the wheel.

"He's not just a father, he's a friend. I tell him everything," Donna Scott said. "I have ever since I was a little girl."

She and her family are the latest to lose someone they love in a hit-and-run crash. She just threw a surprise 87th birthday party for her dad at the beginning of November. Denry Gayle was his family's rock and a well-known architectural draftsman. 

"We just had Thanksgiving with him Thursday and this teen killed him on Saturday," Scott said.

St. Pete Police say a 17-year-old was behind the wheel of his dad's camaro when he hit the driver's side of Denry Gayle's car at the intersection of Dr. MLK Street South and 30th Avenue South in St. Petersburg. They say he ran from the scene, but was caught soon after.

The teen is now charged with two felonies, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and operating a motor vehicle without a license involving death. His dad Ricky Bishop is charged with allowing an unlicensed person to drive his vehicle involving death.

"It's not the first time that he's allowing him to drive his car, so he needs to be held accountable," Scott said. "He needs jail time as well as his son because as far as I'm concerned, the teen did not only participate in killing my father, his father did as well."

It's the second time this month St. Pete Police charge a 17-year-old and their parent for a deadly crash.

"In both situations, both sides of the family see it as a tragedy. They're both going to have to live with the consequences of it for the rest of their lives,"  Sgt. Michael Shade with the St. Petersburg Police Department said. "We just want to make sure that parents understand that they can do things to try and prevent this from happening."

One hundred seven days after the crash that killed 14-year-old Shaariyah Brown and 18-year-old Brice Lewis, investigators charged 17-year-old Nikia Killens with two felony counts of driving without a license causing death. Police say she lost control of the car and crashed into a pole after speeding. Her mother Eloda Hogan was also charged. Police say she knowingly let her use the car.

"If Eloda would have never gave her the keys, our kids will be alive today," Alfrieda Lewis said after the charges were filed. 

Like Donna Gayle Scott, she and Shaariyah's mother live with an unbearable pain. Now they're all fighting for harsher penalties.

"This is madness, we need to stop this. We don't need a slap on the wrist by paying a fine from the parents. We need jail time for the parents to hold them accountable," Scott said.

The parents in each of those two cases will appear in court in the next several weeks. Eloda Hogan is set to be in court next Tuesday, December 13.

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