‘He’s not a man’: Polk sheriff calls on hit-and-run suspect to turn himself in

Polk County

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had a pointed message Thursday for the man accused of mowing down another person at a Haines City ranch.

“Well, he’s not a real man because a real man doesn’t run over and leave someone for dead,” Judd said. “So, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should be embarrassed. Turn yourself in and do what’s right. If you’re a real man, you’ll do that. If you’re a coward like you appear to be, keep running.”

Judd identified the victim in the crash as 34-year-old Hugo Zarate Gonzalez of Orlando.

Gonzalez was one of 800 people who gathered at Rancho Los Pinos in Haines City Sunday night. The owner hosted a rodeo as part of a Mexican heritage event.

A fight broke out and that’s when the driver of a black Ford F-150 floored the truck toward others.

Gonzalez was hit and rushed to Osceola Regional Medical Center. He remains in critical condition, a sheriff’s office press release said.

“He’s already had surgery. They’re anticipating more surgery. And he’s clinging to life,” Judd said.

Another man, 35-year-old Anselmo Salazar of Ocoee, was also hit by the driver but is expected to be okay, Judd said.

So far, few tips have come in on the identity of the driver even though hundreds of people attended the event.

“We’re not dealing with a vehicle crash,” Judd said. “We’re dealing with someone who intentionally ran over a young man who was at a party.”

Anyone with information should call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Heartland CrimeStoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS. Callers are eligible for a cash reward.

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