Man arrested in Clearwater hit-and-run driver, biker in life-threatening condition

Posted at 4:36 AM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 11:17:12-04

Clearwater Police arrested the driver of a pickup truck who struck a bicyclist on Tuesday night before fleeing the scene.

Clearwater Police and Clearwater Fire & Rescue were called to the intersection of Cleveland Street and Fredrica Avenue about 9:43 p.m. on Tuesday night. The truck was heading eastbound on Cleveland when they struck a bicyclist before driving off. The bicycle was crossing from north to south between Betty Lane and Fredrica Avenue. He was not in a bike lane, according to police.

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The male bicyclist, who police identified as Joseph Samson, 34, is in critical condition and is being treated at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. 



Clearwater's traffic homicide team and detectives arrested Benito Espanol-Cruz, 33, and charged him with leaving the scene of a crash involving injury.

The truck was located at the suspect's place of employment in Largo, covered and concealed behind several other work vehicles. Espanol-Cruz admitted he had been drinking alcohol before the crash.

He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail overnight on Wednesday. Samson remains in critical condition at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.