The increase in the number of hit-and-run crashes in our region has a lot of people wondering what happens if a driver leaves a scene. Depending on how bad the crash is, a driver could receive a ticket or face jail time. And there is now a push at the Florida State Capitol to make the penalties tougher on hit-and-run drivers.
Florida law is simple: If you’re involved in a crash, stop and help anyone who might be hurt. If you leave the scene, it’s a crime.
Christine Gray is heartbroken over the recent loss of her daughter, Allana Staiano, in North Fort Myers and angry at the driver who left her on the side of the road.
“She did this; she made that choice,” Gray said.
We asked Gray if it would have made a difference to her had the accused driver stayed at the scene.
“I don’t think I would have half the rage I do now,” Gray said. “It was her responsibility to stay here and check on that child. And, instead, she did not even touch her brakes.”
Crash investigators say they got Allana’s hit-and-run killer, Courtney Gainey, who remains in Lee County Jail.
But many other families are still waiting for the drivers who killed their loved ones to be found and brought to justice.
“If you leave the scene, guess what? You get to do it the rest of your life, look over your shoulder,” said Lt. Greg Bueno with Florida Highway Patrol. “Because, again, we are not going to give up.”
Bueno has been to more deadly hit-and-runs than he wants to count. We asked him why drivers continue to flee crash scenes.
“A rash of excuses,” Bueno said. “And the sad reality is that none of them are good.”
In Collier County, the driver of a Jeep ran a stop sign recently and killed a woman on her bike. But the driver stayed and got a ticket.
The state attorney could decide to do more, but, no matter what, he won’t face a deadly hit-and-run charge.
In 2019, FHP responded to almost 2,500 hit-and-runs in our region. Four of them were fatal. That does not include the hit-and-run covered by local police or sheriff’s deputies.
“If it was your family member laying on the side the road, how would you feel if somebody had left?” Gray said.