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Deputies search for hit-and-run driver that seriously injured teen on bicycle in Dunedin


DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — Sensei Dean Lavas knew something was terribly wrong when he heard the noise. “I heard a big, ba-boom. Like bang. We knew it was a car,” Lavas said.

“We weren’t sure if it was two cars or one but it made you go, ‘What was that?'” Lavas owns the Pro Karate Center in Dunedin, just few yards from the crash.

Pinellas County deputies say 16-year-old Ibrahim Paul was trying to cross County Road 1 in Dunedin, just north of Curlew Road. It was about 5:52 in the evening and it was getting dark. Paul was not wearing a helmet and there were no lights on his bicycle. He wasn’t crossing in a crosswalk.

Lavas ran to the scene after hearing the impact.

“So I ran as quickly as I could and at that point, I could see the bicycle and I knew what happened,” said Lavas. “And then I saw the poor kid laying on the ground not responsive.”

But there was no car at the scene. No concerned driver tending to the teen’s injuries.

If Lavas heard the impact from his business about 50-yards away, how could the driver not know he or she hit something? “Great question. Great question,” said Lavas. “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Detectives spent hours at the scene looking for evidence that would lead them to the vehicle involved. They found nothing. Not a single piece of broken plastic, not a piece of rubber molding. Nothing. That leads them to believe there is the possibility that the driver may not have realized there was an impact.

Paramedics rushed the teen to a local hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Other cyclists say they can’t believe the driver didn’t feel something. Tara Allen believes the person knows what time the impact happened and knows where he or she was. “You would know, I was there at that time, thought I felt a bump, just call,” said Allen. “It would be horrible to live with … and not coming out about it anyway. They”re going to be better off just to tell. Just to come in. “

Allen adds that stretch of roadway is very dangerous for cyclists, even in broad daylight. “Where are we supposed to ride? If we ride on the sidewalk we’re bumping people who are trying to walk and I get that,” said Allen. “If we’re on the road in the bike lane, I had a lady, I’ve had two people shout at me from cars. “

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating the vehicle and its driver. It’s described as a black Jeep Wrangler with a dark colored soft top. It was traveling southbound on County Road 1 at the time of the impact. If you have any information you’re urged to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at 1-727-582-6200.


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