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Florida track athletes left stranded on side of road after coach’s suspended license incident

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A Florida high school track and field coach stranded his athletes in a disturbing situation when he was pulled over while driving team members to a meet in Gainesville only to be kicked out of his vehicle for operating a vehicle with a suspended license and arrested, leaving four members of the team stranded on the side of a state highway.

As reported by NBC Miami, the Homestead (Fla.) Senior High track team was traveling to a meet in Gainesville in a rental car on Friday when assistant coach Walter Chambliss was pulled over by an officer for traveling 86 mph in a 70 mph zone. When the presiding officer learned that there were a number of suspensions for failing to pay past-due tickets and failing to appear in court, Chambliss' rented vehicle was towed and he was arrested, leaving the team members with no way to get to their meet and briefly stranded where they were on the side of a highway.

More troublingly, when teens called parents to alert them to the situation, parents then called the school's athletic department only to be told that the meet wasn't an official event, with the school unwilling to provide any kind of aid.

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"I pretty much begged the state trooper to take them to the next exit," Clayrinski Wilson, whose sons Demetri and Eldrick were both traveling to the event, told NBC Miami. "[The Homestead athletic director] said he didn't know anything that was going on and offered me no assistance to get them back home.

"The facts still remain, they have and they did leave the kids on the side of the road and didn't try to get them back home."

In the case of Wilson's children, one brother was eventually transported to the nearest exit with the police officer while his brother was forced to ride in the tow truck. Wilson and his children all insisted that the experience had been a stressful one.

Still, because the school had refused to accept any blame for the incident, Wilson's request to have his sons speak to a school counselor was not quickly addressed.

As for Chambliss himself, the coach insisted that he had paid all of his tickets through a lawyer and that the entire incident was a misunderstanding, with the 26-year-old desperate to maintain his position at the school. As of Wednesday, those pleas were apparently rejected as the South Florida Times cited multiple sources in claiming  Chambliss had been fired following an internal investigation by Homestead officials.

"[The lawyer] paid all my tickets and was supposed to re-instate my license," Chambliss told NBC Miami. "Come to find out there were court fees after my tickets were paid.

"All I see is my picture in handcuffs but I don't see the real me, the guy who gets these kids in school the guy who contacts these colleges."

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