Polk County deputies searching for driver in a fatal hit and run

With the shock still setting in, Mandy Messer tried to come to grips with what happened to her younger brother, 32-year-old Eric Pope.  "He was a friend to everybody that knew him," Messer said.  "I don't see how anybody could just not even stop and just hit somebody."

 

Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff's office say around 1:30 Saturday morning Pope was riding his bike northbound on Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane in Lakeland. It's a ride he took every night to get home from work.

 

Eric was wearing a helmet, reflective vest, and had a light on his bike, but apparently that wasn't enough.

 

Witnesses described seeing a silver or white Dodge pickup truck hit Pope from behind, carry his body on top of the car for over 100 feet, before it was thrown off into a ditch on the side of the road. "Accidents can happen but just leave him on the side of the road and just keep going, that's cold," Pope's brother-in-law Joe Messer said.

The driver also left a little four-year-old girl without a father.  – "This is his daughter; this was his world right here," Joe said. "This is Lydia. This is what this man lived for. This is what he worked for."

 

Detectives are continuing to work leads. "We're looking for you. We have witnesses. If you don't turn yourself in we're going to find you anyway," Sheriff Grady Judd said.

 

Hopefully whoever did this will turn themselves in, giving Pope's family some type of closure. "I want justice and I know you're guilty about what you've done and if you have any kind of heart just do what's right and turn yourself in," Messer said.

The sheriff's office asks that if any has seen the vehicle or knows any information about the case, to contact them by calling (863) 298-6200.

EARLIER:

Polk County deputies are asking for the public's help in finding the driver of a vehicle involved in a deadly hit and run around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Eric Pope, 32, was riding his bike on the edge of Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane when he was hit from behind by a vehicle. Pope was carried 100 feet and landed in a ditch.

He later died at the scene due to his injuries.

A witness who was in the area at the time heard the crash happen.

Deputies are searching for what they believe to be a silver, or white Dodge pick-up truck.

Pope was wearing reflective gear and had a light on his bike so that he could be seen by motorist.

Anyone with any information on the suspect driver and vehicle are asked to call 1-800-226-TIPS.

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