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Donna and Wellington Chen enjoy a happy moment. Courtesy photo.
Sarasota Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 3 years ago

UPDATE: Plea deal expected for fatal 2012 DUI crash

by: Nolan Peterson News Editor

Circuit Court Judge Frederick P. Mercurio sentenced Blake Talman, 24, to 15 years in prison for DUI manslaughter Nov. 25, for the death of Siesta Key resident Donna Chen two years earlier. Talman will also serve five years of probation.

Earlier: A painful ordeal may be in its last chapter for one Siesta Key family.

On Jan. 7 2012, Blake Talman, who was then 22, was driving his Nissan Altima drunk when he struck and killed 53-year-old Donna Chen as she and her dog, Barney, were running on the sidewalk along Midnight Pass Road. Talman was reportedly driving about 90 mph when he lost control rounding a corner on Midnight Pass Road, flipping his car and fatally impacting Chen.

A kayaker later rescued Chen's dog, Barney, one mile out in Sarasota Bay. A video depicting the rescue was widely circulated in the area.

Chen worked as an emergency room nurse at Venice Memorial Hospital, where she met her husband, Dr. Welington Chen.

The couple had been married 26 years, raising three children in their Siesta Key home.

Talman was later found to have a blood-alcohol content of between .223 and .222 — nearly three times the adult legal limit.

Read more about the Jan. 7, 2012, accident and Talman’s troubled past.

At 2 p.m. Monday, Talman is anticipated to enter a plea deal. He faces 11 to 15 years in prison for DUI manslaughter.

The plea bargain could potentially expedite Talman’s sentencing and punishment and spare Chen’s family the pain of a long, drawn-out trial that relives the painful memories of the fatal crash.

Controversy has surrounded the sequence of events leading to Chen’s death because, on three separate occasions Jan. 7, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies had conversations with the 22-year-old Bradenton resident before he struck and killed Chen.

The last time the deputies saw Talman and his passenger in the crash, 24-year-old David J. Brewer of Sarasota, the two men were walking to a Siesta Key beach, according to a January 2012 report from the Pelican Press.

Deputies ran background checks on Talman, Brewer and their companion, Michael E. Blakey, 26, of North Port, after the first encounter but let the three men leave after the checks turned up no outstanding warrants.

It was not until later, according to the Sheriff’s Office, that the agency learned Talman had a record of six felony arrests and 23 misdemeanors, while Brewer had a record of four felony arrests and 11 misdemeanors.

According to a check of Sarasota County Clerk of Court records, Talman last was convicted in April 2011 of driving while his license was suspended.

Because neither Talman nor Brewer displayed rude behavior or were disorderly, deputies had no grounds to make an arrest. They did, however, arrest Blakey about 12:30 p.m. on a charge of Disorderly Intoxication.

The Florida Highway Patrol later said Chen was killed about 1:10 p.m., after she was struck by Talman’s 2000 Nissan Altima as he was fleeing from another accident on Midnight Pass Road.

Attorney’s familiar with the case said that the evidence against Talman was overwhelming, and he almost certainly would have been convicted had the case gone to trial.

The results of Talman’s plea deal are expected to be announced Monday afternoon.

Contact Nolan Peterson at

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