MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA/SNN) – The Florida Highway Patrol has made an arrest more than a year and a half after a hit-and-run killed a Bradenton man known to his community as the “Peace Walker.”
Joe Dralus, 82, used to walk around his Northwest Bradenton neighborhood and flash the peace sign to anyone he saw. It was on one of those walks in May of 2020 when he was hit by a driver that kept going, troopers said.
“Everyone should understand the Florida Highway Patrol will never stop looking for a hit-and-run driver,” Trooper Kenn Watson said. “We will do everything in our power to bring justice to not only the victim but the families.”
Teresa Zeppi, 57, is now facing felony charges related to the crash. DNA evidence was found on her car and surveillance footage caught her just after the crash, the FHP said.
“Our suspect did in fact stop the vehicle, exit, check the vehicle for damage, get back into the car and then left the scene,” Trooper Watson said.
Both police and Dralus’ son, Joseph Dralus Jr., credited neighbors for stepping up with tips, surveillance and, ultimately, the beginnings of justice.
“Again it comes back to this little old man in his raggedy shorts flashing the peace signs to everybody,” Dralus said. “And anybody, some he knew some he didn’t, some who knew him as the little old gray haired tan man flashing the sign, at all levels, it was about the community stepping up for him.”
The Florida Highway Patrol wants to remind everyone to stay on the scene after a crash, what could be just a citation escalates to a felony as soon as you leave the scene.
Zeppi is charged for leaving the scene of a hit and run as well as trying to destroy evidence