Byron Dobson | Tallahassee Democrat
The music stopped Wednesday morning at Florida State University’s jazz studies department after faculty learned that one of their students was killed Tuesday night on West Pensacola Street.
Scotty Barnhart, professor of jazz trumpet, said he learned that one of his trumpet students, Blake Bennett, was killed in the hit and run crash.
“All of us at FSU are absolutely shocked,” Barnhart said. “Blake was a great young man, a beautiful cat. He was one of the best trumpet students I ever had. The jazz department has cancelled all its stuff for today and tomorrow.”
A band colleague told Barnhart that he and Bennett were together at an apartment on Pensacola Street Tuesday night practicing their instruments when Bennett said he was going to get something to eat and would return shortly. He got on his scooter and headed out. As time went on, his friend texted Bennett and never heard back.
The Tallahassee Police Department said officers responded to the crash just after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 2600 block of West Pensacola Street.
Investigators learned a driver was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck an adult male on a scooter and sped off. The victim, who was not identified by TPD, was pronounced dead at the scene. The roadway was closed for several hours.
Investigators believe the vehicle involved in the crash is a possible 1999-2004 blue Mustang that is now missing the hood and the passenger headlight as a result of the crash. The vehicle was last seen traveling westbound on West Pensacola Street.
Traffic Homicide Investigators are asking anyone with information about the accident to call 850-891-4200 to speak to the Traffic Homicide Unit. They may also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.
Bennett is the fourth FSU student killed in traffic crashes in the last month.
Bennett’s grandfather, Ben Jacobson, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Blake loved being at FSU.
“FSU brought out the best in him,” Jacobson said. “It’s going to be a long recovery for this, I’ll tell you. It tore our hearts out. You don’t think you are going to outlive your grandchildren.”
Tallahassee police notified the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office following the crash and two deputies arrived late Tuesday evening at the Osprey home of Bennett’s father, Bob Bennett. Jacobson’s daughter, Susan Jacobson, is Bennett’s mother.
“The deputies showed up about 11. He knew when he saw them it wasn’t going to be good news,” Ben Jacobson said.
Jacobson, who helped raise Bennett, showered praise on TPD’s Victim’s Advocacy Unit.
“They called Bob and they called Susan and they assured them they will keep them informed,” Jacobson said. “They also called Blake’s sister, Blaire, who is a nursing student at the Tallahassee Community College and assured her they will be in touch with victim’s advocates at TCC. They did the same thing at FSU.”
Jacobson said his grandson was still enrolled at FSU and planned to graduate in the spring. He was earning a B.A. degree in psychology and a B.S. degree in jazz performance.
“He was really interested in the intersection of music and psychology,” Jacobson said.
As a youngster, Jacobson said, his grandson told him he wanted to be an Eagle Scout and a trumpet player.
He carried out both of those dreams, earning his Eagle Scout award as a senior and also earned the Louis Armstrong Award in music, both from the Pine View School for the Gifted in Osprey.
“He was one of the best,” Barnhardt said. “He worked really hard.”
Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @byrondobson.
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