TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When you’re involved with a crash, stop, render aid and call 911. That’s the message from Florida Highway Patrol as they wrap up hit-and-run awareness month. Troopers are highlighting their ‘Stay at the Scene’ campaign.
Troopers reported about 300 hit-and-run crashes a month in Tampa Bay. One Polk County family said they’re still looking for justice after their loved one was hit and killed and left on the side of the road two years ago.
Roy Newton, 44, was on his way to Thanksgiving dinner in 2021 when he was hit on his motorized bike in Winter Haven. One week later, Newtown fell into a coma from a brain injury and died.
“The regard for one another’s well-being is not there anymore,” said Kevin O’Brien, the victim’s cousin.
O’Brien says the driver never stopped.
“It leaves you angry,” he said. “It leaves you aggravated, hopeless, sad and depressed. Some of us go to a very dark place. He was like my little brother; we grew up together. He was two years younger than me.”
According to FHP, there were 104,895 hit-and-run crashes in Florida in 2022. Of those crashed 266 were fatalities and 1,007 people were left with serious injuries.
“People leave the scene for a multitude of reasons because of a suspended license, they don’t want to get involved, they think they’re at fault, which is oftentimes not the case, especially with our pedestrian-bicycle crashes people get scared, and they leave the scene when it’s not even their fault,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, Florida Highway Patrol.
Gaskins said the moment you leave a crash, you’re now facing criminal charges.
“We have to track down the vehicles we have to find them and the hard part that’s when the challenge really starts putting the driver behind the wheel to be able to make those charges,” said Gaskins.
O’Brien said his family has had no closure since his cousin was killed.
“A heartless death. I mean accidents happen whatever, but pull over and help somebody,” he said.
If you leave the scene of a deadly crash, you could face a mandatory minimum of 4 years and up to 30 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine.