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The Villages
Saturday, December 9, 2023

Mother sues Sumter County Sheriff’s Office for death of daughter

A mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2021 has filed a lawsuit against the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies, accusing them of not taking actions to stop the driver before the fatal accident.

The lawsuit was filed in Lake County circuit court by Jeana Gasque Moran on Sept. 21, exactly two years after her daughter, Cheyenne Lance, was killed while riding in a vehicle on State Road 50.

Cheyenne Lance
Cheyenne Lance was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Sept. 21, 2021

The complaint accuses the driver of the vehicle on that day, Kevin P. Kells, his passenger, and three law enforcement agencies, including the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, of negligence that led to the “wrongful death” of Lance.

According to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol, the fatal accident took place on Sept. 21, 2021, near the intersection of State Road 50 and Little Green Lane in Hernando County.

Kells, who was 23 at the time, was driving a 2020 Jeep Cherokee westbound on SR 50, just before 3 a.m. on that day. According to the FHP report, Kells’ vehicle veered into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a 2004 Toyota Corolla.

Lance, who was riding as a passenger in the Corolla, was killed in the crash. She was 27 years old.

Kells was arrested after the accident and taken into custody on multiple felony charges, including DUI manslaughter.

Kevin Kells
Kevin Kells was transferred to state prison on Aug. 17, 2023

This past January, Kells pled guilty to the charges and in July, he was sentenced to 25 years in state prison, followed by 6 years of probation. He was credited with 210 days served, and was transferred from county jail to state prison. 

In the complaint, Moran’s attorneys allege that the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol, were all “alerted and made aware by a 911 caller” that Kells’ “reckless actions” were causing “motorists grave and immediate danger.”

Moran’s attorneys argue that SCSO had “a duty to protect the public from reported and known dangers” of which it was aware, and that it “negligently failed to do so” in the case of Lance.

The complaint states that, “despite the 911 callers’ warning of the inebriated defendant,” SCSO “failed to take any appropriate actions and/or steps to protect the public.”

It concludes that the sheriff’s office “carelessness and negligence” led to the wrongful death of Lance.

In addition to Kells and SCSO, the complaint names Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol as defendants.

Attorneys for Moran, who filed the lawsuit “de son tort,” say she and Lance’s father, David Lance, are “entitled to damages” in excess of $50,000 for “the value of lost support and services,” “mental pain and suffering,” and “medical and funeral expenses” since the date of Lance’s death.

A lawsuit is filed “de son tort” when a plaintiff has no legal authority over a deceased individual’s estate, but presumes to act on behalf of the estate.

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