Investigators search for driver in deadly Port Charlotte crash last year

Posted at 8:00 AM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 08:00:58-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- We're learning new details about a December car crash in Port Charlotte that killed two people.  The driver of that car ran away after he crashed the car, and never stopped to help his friends.  Now investigators need your help finding him.

Two young adults, both with bright futures ahead of them, had their lives cut short in that crash.  Initially, troopers thought Wesley Chery and Brittany Beni were the only people in the car that morning.

But an investigation has now led investigators in a whole new direction.  “In doing a more exhaustive investigation, we were able to determine that there was more to the situation than what face value was initially," says Lt. Greg Bueno with Florida Highway Patrol.  "We were able to determine that the driver of that vehicle was not at the scene upon our arrival."

When troopers first arrived at U.S. 41 and Harbor Boulevard, they found the two 21-year-olds deceased from injuries sustained in the crash. But a 911 call made it clear that there was a third person involved - an unknown driver who made the conscious decision to take off and leave his friends to perish.

911 caller: "There are two passengers. I think he killed them… He probably ran away from the car because it's smashed…this guy's gonna get away with it."

"Through that investigation, we were able to determine through the dynamics of the crash, that Wesley was a back seat passenger at the time of the crash and we have an empty driver’s seat that we're going to put someone in," says Lt. Bueno.

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What is known for sure at this point is that Brittany, Wesley and several friends were at CJ's Tavern in Punta Gorda right before the crash occurred. What they need to know now is who they were with, what was happening and, most importantly, who was behind the wheel when that fatal crash occurred.

A witness described the fleeing driver as a black male, between 20 and 30 years of age with balding or short hair. The rest of the information, troopers hope, will come from the public.

"We would like anyone that has any knowledge of the relationships, the seating positions, time of departure, direction of departure to come forward. There's potentially something that someone knows out there that would be absolutely critical to our investigation," says Bueno.

The loss of Brittany and Wesley has left families without answers, while a cowardice driver remains unaccountable for his actions.

"There's a domino effect. Someone loses their life. It's tragic to the family, it's tragic to the community and it's tragic to the circle of friends. As a driver of a vehicle, you have a responsibility to remain on the scene and you have an obligation to immediately report it. That person did not do either," says Bueno.

He's hopeful that the truth will come out and that Brittany and Wesley's friends and acquaintances will help them lock in that final piece of the puzzle.  "We want to uncover the truth and we want to uncover the truth based on fact. We want to hold people accountable if they violate Florida statute. That's our goal. We're going to continue to investigate this crash until we get to a point when we can determine who that driver was so that we can bring some resolution to the family."

If you know who the driver is, you're urged to call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS. You don't have to give your name, and you could earn a cash reward of up to $1,000.