Hit-and-run crashes are up more than 15% in two years, FHP now has new position to solve cases

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 21:34:34-05

He might look healthy, but Darryle Edward's is still struggling.

"He cannot walk long distances yet," said his mom Melinda.

We first met Darryle and his parents, Johan and Melinda back in November. The 12-year-old was bound to a hospital bed with several broken bones. Darryle pushed a friend out of a cars path, the driver slammed into him just block from his home.

"I am disgusted at the fact that the person is not found that hit my son," said Melinda.

But now a surge of hope.

"Finding this out today will actually give me more sleep tonight," said Melinda.  

The Edwards learned of a new job with the Florida Highway Patrol. A  trooper dedicated solely to investigating hit-and-runs.

"I think Tampa needs that. I think Florida needs it," said Johan.

According to numbers provided by FHP, hit-and-runs have gone up by 5.4 percent in just the past two years.  Surpassing 100,000 crashes in 2016.

"Every hit-and-run there's a victim," said Trooper Chris Wells

Chris Wells is the first trooper to hold this new position. He covers seven counties in our area.

"It's working quite well," said Wells.

Wells has made significant strides in his first few months.

"We have 100 cases we worked on and over 40 of them have been charged criminally for either leaving the scene or different criminal violations," said Wells.

He said it's a fresh set of eyes and focus.

"We have troopers working all the time. So it is very difficult to do follow ups and knock on doors at 3 a.m.. That's where I come in," said Wells.

And it's tax dollars at work. FHP just reallocated resources without compromising safety.

"We are well staffed to handle things we need," said Wells.

Wells hopes he can get closure for more families. The Edward's hope so too especially for Darryle's sake.

"He's always so nervous when cars are passing by. I wonder if he keeps thinking that is the driver! He needs closure to move on," said Melinda

And troopers want to remind people if you flee the scene you might be opening the door to criminal charges.