FORT MYERS, Fla. — The state of Florida sees more than 100,000 hit-and-run crashes each year. With more than 100,000 hit and run crashes in Florida in 2021 - 304 of those involved a death of a human.
Lieutenant Greg Bueno with The Florida Highway Patrol, who has been working in law enforcement for the last 26 years, underscores how important it is for people to stay at the scene and not take off when a crash happens.
According to FHP, leaving the scene with injuries is a third-degree felony, and if convicted license revoked for at least 3 years and sentenced to 5 years in prison. And a driver who leaves the scene of a crash with a fatality could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and a 10-thousand dollar fine.
At the Florida Highway Patrol station on Daniel's Parkway, there's an impound lot with smashed cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles. Lieutenant Bueno says each vehicle there is evidence of a crash involving a death.
"I always remind people that is a lot more than just damaged cars that are people's lives every one of those cars has a story behind it of someone's life either a DUI manslaughter case or a leaving the scene with death case and there's a lot of cars in there and that means a lot of lives that are lost, a lot of families that are broken all because of someone's severe negligence of being impaired or leaving the scene with death."
Lieutenant Bueno adds that this year as opposed to last year there was an 18 percent increase in hit and run crashes. FHP says that from 2015 to 2021 approximately 84% of hit and run fatalities happened during dawn, dusk, or nighttime conditions.
Troopers say impairment, aggressive driving, following too close, distracted driving, or sometimes the pedestrian misjudges speed or wears dark clothing and is not seen. The most important tip from law enforcement is if you see something say something. You can call Crimestoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS and remain anonymous if you have any information about a hit-and-run crash.
And it gets harder after 48 hours statistically speaking to solve these crimes as more time goes on however FHP says they continue to get tips, and use security cameras and forensic evidence to close these cases however long it takes.