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Search for hit and run driver, victim's bike removed from scene

Posted at 10:33 PM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-24 15:49:19-05
A bicyclist is recovering from serious head injuries following a hit-and-run in Lehigh Acres, and deputies are asking for the public's assistance to locate the victim's bike which was removed from the scene. 
 
According to the Lee County Sheriff's office, the crash occurred Wednesday night around 9:00 p.m along Leonard Blvd. 
 
The victim, who has not been identified, was rushed to the hospital with serious head injuries but is expected to recover. 
 
Witnesses on the scene told detectives a red SUV was seen leaving the scene of the crash, heading towards Gunnery Rd. 
 
Investigators say the victim's bike was removed from the scene before they arrived, leaving them with little physical evidence. 
 
A parent who lives along Leonard Blvd told Fox 4 safety is a major concern for residents in the area, due to the lack of sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians. 
 
"Every time they're playing I have to be outside with them because they can be go in the road. They're always on their bike. I'm always screaming come inside," said Eliza Castellanos.
 
State Senator Kathleen Passidomo who represents a portion of Lehigh Acres told Fox 4 she has been working on legislation that would provide better protection to bicyclist who survive hit-and-runs. 
 
"I would like to have a stiffer penalty for a motor vehicle striking a bicyclist and causing bodily injury. They should pay something for that," said Passidomo.
 
Currently Florida's Andy Cohen Life Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2014, created enhanced penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a fatal crash involving a cyclist; including, a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years. 
 
Under current law, bicyclist who survive such crashes have fewer protections. 
 
"There are no fines for striking a cyclist and causing bodily injury there are no fines or penalties currently under florida law," said Passidomo. 
 
Detectives are still searching for the driver of the red SUV along with whoever removed the victim's bike from the scene.
 
Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crimestoppers at 1-800-480-TIPS.