Hit-and-run crash kills 81-year-old man in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg police are searching for a driver who ran from a crash that killed an 81-year-old man Wednesday night.

"We don't even know what to do," said Anna Melendez, 62, wife of Tomas Melendez who died in the crash.  "Anything he could do for you, he would do."

Melendez and her son, Daniel, 24, said everything happened so fast.  Anna blacked out.  Daniel was able to crawl out of the car soon after it rolled despite broken bones in his legs.

Officers nearby heard the crash at 15th Ave. S. and 25th Street, and got there just after 9 p.m., according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

An investigation revealed that a 1997 white Toyota Camry driven by Anna Melendez, 62, was eastbound on 15th Avenue, when a Nissan Altima, traveling northbound at a high rate of speed and swerving around other vehicles, ran a stop sign at 25th Street struck the right side of the Camry.

The Camry flipped onto the driver side crashing into a chain link fence on the northeast corner of the intersection.

All three were taken to Bayfront Medical Center where Tomas died from injuries sustained in the accident.  Anna and Daniel Melendez were treated and released.

Daniel said he can't imagine someone leaving the scene of such a horrible accident without checked to see if the other people were alright.

"It's really gross, because my dad was such a perfect human being.  He was so good to all of his kids," said Daniel.

His mother said Tomas was dealing with health issues but was getting better.  She said she never imagined his life would end this way.

"We've been nursing him back to health for years.  So for him to go like this, it's really not fair," said Anna.

The driver of the Altima is currently unknown. The Altima is an Avis rental vehicle originally rented to Keisha Williams, 27, who was not in the car at the time of the crash.

Williams told ABC Action News the rental car was stolen, yet St. Petersburg police say they have no record of a stolen vehicle report on that car.

After the crash, the driver of the Altima ran from the scene.  He is described as a black male, between 20 and 30 years of age, with a beard.

Police are hoping forensic evidence from the car will lead them to the person responsible for the deadly crash.

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