The parents of a Florida tourist who died after being punched in the face have rejected condolences from Jamill Jones, the Wake Forest assistant basketball coach charged over the fatal assault.
Bob and Donna Kent appeared on the Today show Friday and said that Jones should have tried to save their son Sandor Szabo’s life after punching him early Sunday.
‘If you’re this good father, son, husband, why not try to take him to the hospital and see if you could save his life?’ Bob said.
Jones turned himself in to police in Queens on Thursday, and his defense attorney Alain Massena later released a statement saying: ‘This was a tragic accident, and Mr Jones and his family send their deepest condolences and their thoughts and prayers to the Szabo family.’
Donna responded to the statement saying: ‘I’m sorry, your condolences are a little bit too late.’
Bob and Donna Kent, parents of Sandor Szabo, a Florida tourist who died after being punched in the face on Sunday, have rejected condolences from the man charged in the assault, Wake Forest University assistant basketball coach Jamill Jones
Szabo, 35, right, struck his head on the sidewalk after being punched in the face by Jones, right, whom he had likely mistaken for an Uber driver after attending his stepsister’s wedding
Szabo had been visiting New York City from Boca Raton, Florida, for his stepsister’s wedding when he got in an altercation with Jones on the way back to his hotel in Long Island City.
The 35-year-old was said to be drunkenly banging on cars when he came upon Jones’ vehicle early Sunday morning.
The coach got out, followed Szabo to the sidewalk, hit him and allegedly sped off in his white SUV, police said.
Szabo then fell and hit his head on the pavement. He was rushed to hospital, but never regained consciousness and was taken off life support Tuesday.
The victim’s brother, Dominic Szabo, 33, said Sandor was ‘the nicest guy you’ve ever meet’, speculating that his brother had likely been attempting to hail a ride back to his hotel and ‘probably just tapped on the wrong guy’s car’ that night’.
The NYPD released this picture of the man who they believe punched Sandor in the face
Dominic told the NY Daily News that his brother’s attempts to avoid the punch by backing away actually added to the force involved when he hit his head on the sidewalk.
Dominic said that it was the impact with the pavement that resulted in Sandor’s brain injury.
Szabo was vice president for sales at What If Media Group, a digital media company based in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
‘He was always upbeat, positive, kind and caring,’ the company said in a Facebook post. ‘He was fun to be with, interesting, and always interested. He was a really good person.’
Jones had been visiting New York City from Boca Raton, Florida, last weekend
Jones turned himself in to police earlier on Thursday after he was involved in an incident with a tourist from Florida. He is seen above looking down as he leaves the courthouse in Queens
Jones is seen left during an appearance in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday evening
Jones was arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court on a misdemeanor assault charge and released on his own recognizance after entering his plea of not guilty.
He wore a suit and tie in the courthouse and stared downward, expressionless. Jones stood alongside his attorney, Massena, who did most of the talking.
The coach’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 2, according to a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney.
He has been charged with assault, though investigators say the charge could be upgraded depending on the results of an autopsy.
Jones is entering his second season as assistant coach for Wake Forest, a university whose campus is in Winstom-Salem, North Carolina.
Head coach Danny Manning said at the time that Jones was hired last year that he was a ‘well-respected bright mind’ in the coaching world and brought ‘new blood’ and ‘new perspectives’ to Wake Forest.
The university said in a statement Friday that Jones had been put on paid leave pending an investigation.
After striking Sandor, the man was seen fleeing the scene in this white SUV
Jones is an assistant basketball coach with Wake Forest University. He is seen above on the sidelines during a Wake Forest game against Notre Dame at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on February 24
Wake Forest’s Division I men’s basketball team plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the NCAA’s premier divisions which features powerhouse programs like Duke, North Carolina, and Clemson.
An assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest earns an average annual salary of $53,456, according to Paysa.
Before being hired as an assistant at Wake Forest, Jones worked for the University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Florida Gulf Coast.
Jones, a Philadelphia native, completed his undergraduate studies at Arkansas Tech in 2008.
He has a son, Jayden, and a daughter, Juliana.
Jones lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, just a few miles east of Winston-Salem.
He has deleted his Twitter account as of Thursday evening.