Florida one of worst states for deadly hit-and-runs, new study shows

AAA reports record high numbers
Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 17:47:36-04

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Deadly hit-and-runs are at an all time high. A new report showed Florida comes in as one of the top three worst states for this type of crime.
What’s alarming is that, nationwide, every minute a hit-and-run crash happens.

One of them happened on Masterpiece Road in Lake Wales. Nearly seven months later the family of Leonard Wimberly Jr., known as "Bigfoot", still has no answers.

Family of deadly hit-and-run victim pleads for driver to turn themselves in

Cell phone videos and pictures are all Janet Goodman has left of her brother.

“We pray every day that God brings this person to justice," she said.

In a deadly October weekend, Wimberly Jr. was one of four killed in hit-and-runs across the Bay. His body was discovered by a rural road. Today, his family is no closer to figuring out who did it.

“We have no closure. It’s sad because we can’t move on," she said.

While there's no surveillance footage in the moments leading up to Wimberly's death, the driver did leave behind pieces of his broken side mirror. Investigators have used that to figure out the type of car he's likely driving. They believe it's a 1998-2009 Dodge 2500 or 3500 pickup truck.

Hit-and-runs are a serious and growing public safety problem. According to a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit-and-run deaths have increased by more than 7% each year since 2009.

In a 10 year span, the state had nearly 2,000 of these deadly crashes. Florida, New Mexico and Louisiana have the highest rates in the books.

“It’s really hard because we go through a lot," cried Goodman.

Even several months later it’s obviously still very difficult to talk about, knowing the person who killed this sibling of nine is still out there. The heartbreak deepens every time they find out it’s happened again.

“Every family I hear I pray for them. Because I know how painful it is," she said.

Right now all they can do is wait and hope someone comes forward with a crucial clue. Goodman says then her brother and their family can be at peace.
AAA has advice for drivers: be aware, be cautious, be patient and be vigilant.

To read the full report click here.