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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Two UF students victims of hit-and-runs last week

One had serious injuries and the other was killed


Mackenzie Mullen and an unidentified student — two UF students — were involved in hit-and-runs last week. Mullen had serious injuries, and the other student was killed. 

Mullen was hit while riding her scooter on West University Avenue by a truck turning left onto Northwest 23rd Street, and the other student was hit while walking on the sidewalk along Southwest 34th Street. Both drivers fled the scene but have been found and are in custody. 

The number of hit-and-run fatalities involving UF students — Maggie Paxton, Sophia Lambert and Denise Griffiths — and serious injuries has grown with the incidents Thursday evening. 

The unidentified UF student was hit and killed by a truck that ran off the road at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The driver, 19-year-old James O’Reilly, drove off after hitting the student on the 3600 block of Southwest 34th Street. 

“Good Samaritans provided CPR to the victim until EMS arrived,” the Gainesville Police Department press release said. 

The student had traumatic injuries and was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.

The identity of the victim has not been released yet. 

Shortly after the crash, O’Reilly and his car were found. He was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI with damage to a person or property, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a crash involving a death or personal injury. 

O’Reilly is currently being held at the Alachua County Jail and filed a plea of not guilty Friday.

About an hour before the unidentified student was killed, another student was struck in a hit-and-run. 

Mullen, a UF sociology freshman, was hit on her scooter near University Park Arboretum. 

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A silver GMC truck heading east on West University Avenue turned abruptly onto Northwest 23rd Street and hit Mullen just after 5 p.m. in the opposite lane.

For about an hour, police closed off a portion of West University Avenue as Mullen’s backpack, helmet and one shoe were laid out in the street along with her scooter torn in half. The area has since been cleared.

She had serious injuries and was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital, where she is in stable condition, Gainesville Police Department spokesperson Graham Glover said.

Police identified the driver as 39-year-old Daniel Screws Jr. in the hit-and-run and took him into custody Saturday. Screws is charged with a felony hit-and-run with failure to remain at the crash involving serious injury. 

Screws had a speeding citation in 2010 in Levy County and another speeding citation in 2008 in Citrus County. He also was charged with two misdemeanors and found guilty for trespassing and larceny in 2017, according to court documents. 

Contact Troy Myers at or follow him on Twitter @Troy_Myers1.

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Troy Myers

Troy is the criminal justice reporter and a fourth-year journalism major with an outside focus in business administration. He previously studied accounting for two years at Santa Fe College but has since transferred to UFCJC. When Troy isn’t writing, he enjoys going to the beach and spending time with his dog, identical twin brother and family.

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