HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — UPDATED STORY: A Hernando County man is now facing several charges after troopers say he hit and killed a pedestrian and tried disposing of the body behind a bait shop.
The Florida Highway Patrol says around 12:10 a.m. Sunday, 28-year-old Joseph Charles Strickland of Weeki Wachee was driving westbound on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville.
As Strickland approached the intersection of Steuben Street, he hit and killed a pedestrian, a 32-year-old man from Spring Hill, that was walking within the roadway.
A release from FHP says he then drove the body of the pedestrian to the back of the Dixie Lee Bait shop, located at 6408 Evanston Street in Spring Hill, and dumped the remains.
Troopers say Strickland called several friends and his roommate to help push his car back to his home located off Evanston Street, saying he had hit a deer.
After making it back home, the Florida Highway Patrol says Strickland spray painted the damaged portions of his red 1995 Mazda MX-6, showered, and went to bed.
Around 8 a.m., his roommate went outside to check the damage to the car and realized it was not from hitting a deer and called law enforcement.
Troopers say the roommate’s call came in around the same time they found a human leg along the shoulder of Cortez Boulevard, just west of US-19.
According to FHP, troopers, Hernando County deputies, and a Pasco County cadaver dog later found the pedestrian’s body behind the bait shop.
Strickland, who also had a warrant for his arrest for bodily harm gross negligence felony criminal vehicle operation from Minnesota, was arrested by troopers.
He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, tampering with evidence, no valid driver license involving a death, and no insurance.
ORIGINAL STORY: Authorities are advising motorists to steer clear of Cortez Boulevard as they investigate a fatal crash near Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
The Florida Highway Patrol said it was investigating a crash at Cortez Boulevard and Evanston Street, but did not mention specifics.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said that Cortez is closed in both directions from Commercial Way (U.S. Highway 19) to the Environmental Center, which is just behind the park. Drivers are being told to seek alternate routes.
This story is developing and will be updated.