The parents of a Florida man who died after he was punched by an assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest University said Friday they don’t accept the coach’s condolences.
Bob and Donna Kent told NBC’s “Today” show that the coach, Jamill 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 Kent said.
Szabo attended college in Raleigh and later worked in the Raleigh area as a consultant, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he attended Millbrook High School.
“Never saw him have an enemy,” said Szabo’s friend Joseph Polk. “That’s why this is so hard.”
College math professor Thomas Ray said Szabo was in one of his math classes. Ray was involved with several charities. Szabo was eager to help.
“He quickly connected and talked to me on multiple occasions about his philosophy about how important it was to give back and help others,” Ray said.
Ray said Szabo volunteered with their Making Magic Alliance program that helped students in need go to summer camp free of charge. Ray said Szabo was also involved in fundraising efforts for Wake County 4-H.
“Really, as long as I know him, [he] was always concerned with giving to others and helping others that was kind of his thing,” Ray said.
Polk worked with Szabo at a Raleigh gym for five years. He said Szabo was charismatic, and always there if you needed him.
Police say Szabo banged on Jones’ SUV window, apparently thinking the vehicle was his Uber ride.
A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Szabo may have been drunkenly knocking on car windows before Jones allegedly confronted him. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak publicly.
Police say Jones got out, punched Szabo and sped off. Szabo fell and hit his head. He never regained consciousness and was taken off life support Tuesday.
The city medical examiner’s office said Friday that Szabo’s death was a homicide caused by blunt impact to his head.
Jones, 35, of Kernersville, North Carolina, turned himself in to police Thursday and was arraigned on a misdemeanor assault charge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 2.
Jones, lawyer, Alain Massena, told the AP that the death was “a tragic accident, and Mr. Jones and his family send their deepest condolences and their thoughts and prayers to the Szabo family.”
Donna Kent told “Today,” ”I’m sorry, your condolences are a little bit too late.”
Szabo, also 35, was visiting from Boca Raton, Florida, where he lived with his brother.
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.”
Wake Forest said in a statement that it would comment further once it gathered more information. However, it did announce Friday in a statement via Twitter that Jones is on leave. “[Athletics DIrector Ron] Wellman spoke with Jones today and he agreed that the decision is appropriate at this time given the circumstances,” the tweet read.
The Jones family also released a statement on the matter. It reads in part:
It is our sincere hope that this matter not be tried in the court of public opinion. The Jones family stands by Jamill, and his legal right to be presumed innocent in what is, ultimately, a tragic incident.
Click here to read the full statement.