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FHP looking at person of interest in May hit-and-run case that killed Plant City father

Posted: 3:37 PM, Sep 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-24 18:25:26-04

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Florida Highway Patrol says they have a person of interest in an active hit-and-run case from May 2018.

Mckenzie Jordan Messick, 22, was walking along Interstate Four near exit 31 when he was hit and left for dead in the ditch, according to FHP.

All that was left behind was a vehicle turn signal light and debris from the vehicle.

Related: 

Family offering reward for info on driver who killed Plant City father in hit-and-run

Plant City father killed in  fatal  hit-and-run, left on  shoulder  of I-4 in Polk County

Truck involved in hit-and-run that killed Plant City father located, search for driver continues

Fast-forward four months later and the family is still looking for answers and ultimately an arrest.

“It seems like a lifetime,” Charity Miller, Messick’s mother, says the time ticks by slow as if it happened years ago.

“It’s a struggle,” she added saying she hurts most before bed, when she has time to wind down and think about her life with McKenzie. We asked what gets her through those moments to keep moving forward and she cited prayer and of course Messick’s two sons, one of which he didn’t know about before he died.

Two weeks after Messick was found on the side of the road, lifeless, FHP troopers were able to find the white truck, that has since been confirmed as the vehicle that hit Messick. 

FDLE testing confirmed the results, after finding the vehicle at another Plant City’s family home. 

The truck was found at 6339 Red Hawk Lane in Plant City.

Although the damaged vehicle was found, and troopers say they have a person of interest related to the vehicle, they have not been able to make an arrest yet.

“Nothing is concrete yet, they still don’t have enough information to charge him,” Miller said.

The family tells ABC Action News cell phone records have not been helpful, FHP confirms this.

This means investigators were not able to connect the suspected driver to the vehicle during the hit-and-run time period. 

Investigators say the phone was turned off at this time. 

But Messick’s mother says she’s confident that the person of interest is at fault.

“He can run, you can hide, but not forever,” she said.

In the past, ABC Action News has interviewed traffic homicide investigators.

They say hit-and-run cases can be tough to solve, even with strong DNA evidence.

“If we don’t get these drivers within a day or two, the damage can be fixed, the evidence on the vehicle from striking the other vehicle or pedestrian can be simply washed away just by cleaning the vehicle,” Corporal James A. White Jr. with the Florida Highway Patrol said.

But according to the victim’s mother, lack of evidence should be considered a false sense of security for the family who owns the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run.

Miller confirms to ABC Action News they will be filing a civil suit in search of justice.

“We just want justice for Mackenzie, so he doesn’t die in vain,” Miller said.

The May 3, 2018, fatal hit-and-run crash investigation remains active and anyone with information regarding the suspect driver is asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol by calling 813-558-1800 or if you are wanting to submit a tip, please click on the Heartland Crime Stoppers link at  www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com [heartlandcrimestoppers.com]  or call 800-226-8477.