Family grieving after brothers, ages 12 and 25, killed the same way, exactly 3 months apart: ‘God will see us through’

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A Florida family is grieving after tragedy has struck not once, but twice in exactly three months.

Dalton Penkacik was walking to his job at an Amazon delivery center in Jacksonville around 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 1 when he was struck by a vehicle.

An officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was reportedly responding to a separate call and noticed Penkacik’s body on the inside southbound lane of the 4500 block of Blanding Boulevard, according to authorities.

The 25-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

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Police said the driver struck Penkacik and then “fled the scene without rendering aid, calling for help, or reporting the incident.”

Investigators suspect the hit-and-run vehicle was a Volkswagen based on evidence at the crime scene.

Exactly three months before Penkacik’s untimely death, the 25-year-old’s younger brother was also killed in a car crash.

On Sept. 1, 12-year-old Brighton Penkacik was on his way to school. The young boy was walking to a school bus stop when a dog reportedly started chasing him. Brighton allegedly ran into the road to escape the attacking dog and was hit by a Chevrolet Cruz. The driver allegedly remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement in their investigation.

Brighton died from his injuries.

Shawnee Penkacik told the Florida Times-Union that her 12-year-old son “was the brightest light in our family of 12 kids” and “had abundant joy and because he walked to school, [he] is gone way too soon.”

“When Brighton passed, he (Dalton) was the one that held everything together,” the grieving mother told WOKV. “We’re seeing our kids who came to the term Brighton was gone to now Dalton is gone, and they have thoughts of who is next who are we going to lose next.”

“I don’t understand how someone could hit and leave our son in the road,” Shawnee said. “Dalton was caring, compassionate, kind, hardworking, a pillar in our family, a great big brother.”

Shawnee recalled the last thing Dalton said to her: “Hey I love you mom, I’ll see you when I get home’ and I don’t get to see him.”

The father, Jason Penkacik, added, “It feels like the world stops and you’re trying to process it, it’s difficult to put into words and it’s a feeling I wouldn’t put on anybody.”

Jason wrote on Facebook: “Every day is a blessing! Hug your kids and tell them you love them.”

Shawnee said, “This has impacted our family and in a way that’s difficult to recover from but we know we will because we have strong faith and we know God will see us through, but the humanity of it, compassion for people, it feels like nobody had compassion for Dalton.”

Florida ranks as one of the most deadly states for pedestrians.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association report on pedestrian traffic fatalities for 2022, Florida is ranked as the third-most deadly state for pedestrians.

In 2022, Florida averaged 3.70 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents. The most dangerous states are New Mexico with 4.40 deaths per 100,000 and Arizona with 4.17 fatalities.

The report also revealed that pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed a whopping 77% between 2010 and 2021 – versus a 25% increase in all other traffic fatalities.

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