Deputies: Hit-and-run driver arrested after death of 14-year-old Polk County girl

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Winter Haven man is behind bars accused of hitting and killing a 14-year-old girl in Lakeland and fleeing the scene.

According to deputies, Shana Blair was walking home with her friend on US 92, west of Clark Road, just after 10 p.m., when a truck driven by Matthew David O’Neill, 28, hit them.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, O’Neill never stopped.

Blair died at the hospital on July 6 after suffering many broken bones and a brain injury.

On July 14, 2021, deputies received a tip that O’Neill had been overheard making comments about how he was in the area of the crash, on the night of the crash, and knew he had hit something but was unsure of what it was.

Deputies say O’Neill’s vehicle had suffered substantial damage with missing pieces of O’Neill’s grill found at the scene of the crash.

Deputies say O’Neill has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, and tampering with evidence.

“I can tell you that our detectives worked doggedly on this case right from the start. We received numerous tips, most of which didn’t pan-out. Detectives first found the truck, then a suspect. Their diligence in gathering evidence shows that the suspect was the one who hit those young girls, then fled, and refused to accept responsibility,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

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