The family of a South Florida woman who was run over and killed on Interstate 95 last week identified the motorcycle driver that they say left her for dead, records show.
According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday in Broward County court, Miles McChesney, 34, of New York, was in town visiting his cousin when he picked up Jennifer St. Clair, 33, of Fort Lauderdale on a motorcycle.
It was their first date after meeting on Tinder, the lawsuit says. The plan for the night: barhopping in Downtown Delray with two other couples, who also were on motorcycles. McChesney had been released from prison just a week earlier in northern New York, where he was serving time on a conviction of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon, according to federal court documents.
According to Todd Falzone, attorney for the victim’s family, it was around 2 a.m. when the motorcycle trio took I-95 on the way back home. St. Clair rode on the back of the bike. That’s when, just south of Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, St. Clair “was somehow expelled from the motorcycle and run over as many as nine times,” Falzone said. “It is our understanding that alcohol was involved.”
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Several drivers accidentally ran over St. Clair after her body mysteriously appeared in the middle of the highway. Some drivers pulled over, others kept driving.
“And then, at around 10 a.m. , within hours of this event, Mr. McChesney’s attorney contacted [Florida Highway Patrol] and said his client would only talk if granted full immunity,” Falzone said. “It is my understanding that FHP said they could not do that.”
The incident is currently being investigated by FHP as a traffic homicide. Law enforcement officials would not comment on the “active case.”
The defendants in the lawsuit — which was filed on behalf of St. Clair’s mother, Becky St. Clair, and stepfather, Robert Burns — are listed as McChesney, the driver of the motorcycle, and John Lewis, the bike’s owner, who lives in Fort Lauderdale.
At a press conference Friday, Falzone, of the law firm Kelley/Uustal, stood beside St. Clair’s brother and aunt. As Falzone held up pictures of McChesney and the black, 1991 Harley Davidson he was believed to be driving the night of St. Clair’s death, the woman’s relatives tightly held each other’s hands and sobbed.
The motorcycle was a two-seater with a backrest.
“We’re hoping this refreshes people’s memories,” Falzone told the Miami Herald. “Maybe someone will recognize these people and provide information on what really happened that night. Since Mr. McChesney won’t talk, maybe someone else will.”
It’s unclear if McChesney is still in South Florida or if he has since left the state, Falzone added.
“Yes, I have been retained by Miles McChesney in relation to the FHP investigation,” said Russell Cormican, a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney. “It was a tragic event and I cannot comment any further.”
According to witnesses, a man who was driving a motorcycle was seen standing near St. Clair’s body, then took off. The family says that narrative matches what authorities have told them.
“Mr. McChesney drank alcohol to the point where he became impaired,” Falzone said. “McChesney carelessly and negligently operated that motorcycle. He then failed to render aid to Jenifer, and then left her on the highway.”
According to the victim’s family, FHP says McChesney’s cousin, identified Friday as Bill Young of Fort Lauderdale, called 911 at the scene, but then hung up on dispatchers.
“The cousin and the other motorcycle driver had gone ahead. When they noticed that Jennifer was not on the bike, the cousin pulled over and called 911,” Falzone said. “But then the man who was driving Jennifer approached him, and he said out loud to police: ‘Here he is, forget it,’ and hung up.”
Falzone cited McChesney’s criminal history, most recently time he served on a firearms conviction in federal court. McChesney was living in a halfway house in New York in 2015 and working a full-time construction job when he failed to return to the halfway house. He was arrested three months later and eventually pleaded guilty to an escape charge, according to court documents. Falzone said McChesney returned to prison and was released on Nov. 28, nine days before St. Clair was killed.
St. Clair, a former server at Cooper’s Hawk restaurant in Coconut Creek, was described as a “ferocious animal lover.”
“We are struggling through shock and grief over the passing of Jennifer St. Clair,” her coworkers collectively wrote in an email to the Miami Herald. “She was always there for her friends and fellow team members, always smiling and saying hello.”
St. Clair was killed just three days before she was supposed to start a new job as a server at El Camino Mexican restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
A celebration of life service will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Joseph A. Scarano Funeral Home in Davie.
Family and friends say St. Clair was an “adventurer” with an “infectious smile.” The “passionate hugger” and “silly” woman was a “bright light” who helped friends navigate grief and divorce.
On her abdomen was a tattoo: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”