FHP calls hit-and-run accidents ‘an epidemic’ in Miami-Dade

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Highway Patrol is looking to remind the public of the importance of staying at the scene of a car accident.

With February serving as Hit-and-Run Awareness Month, troopers have voiced their thoughts that the crime has become an epidemic.

“This is a significant problem throughout the State of Florida. It has arisen to an epidemic proportion in Miami-Dade County,” said FHP Maj. Chris Dellapietra.

Statewide, over 98,000 crashes took place in 2017 alone.

One recent case brought to mind is the deaths of 57-year-old Jose Cepeda and his son 34-year-old Cesar Cepeda. They lost their lives on the side of State Road 836 on Feb. 9.

According to FHP, Cesar was heading east on the 836 from the northbound lanes of the Turnpike when he hit a guard rail and ended up in a ditch in the grassy shoulder.

He called his father for help, and as the two men stood in the shoulder, they were struck and killed by a black Chevrolet Camaro.

The people inside the Camaro abandoned their vehicle at the scene and took off with Jose’s Chevrolet Equinox, later abandoning it in a field in Homestead.

Police and loved ones are now searching for the people responsible.

“There are no words to say except this could have happened to your family member, so treat us as you would want to be treated,” said Josephine Sandelis-Cepeda, a relative of the victims. “The wives are beyond devastated. They face a life now without their husbands, and a mother lost two people on the same day: her husband and her son.”

Sandelis-Cepeda pondered what her family members experienced in their last moments.

“I want to know why did you leave them? Did they hug each other one more time? Did they kiss each other? Did they scream for help?” she asked.

Sandelis-Cepeda also urged the driver to surrender themselves to police.

“What I would say to the criminals or criminal — I don’t know — I would say, ‘Turn yourself in and let justice be served,'” she said. “Honor our men.”

Family members have set up a GoFundMe page to help them through the loss of the Cepedas. To donate, click here.

If you have any information on the Cepedas’ hit-and-run deaths, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

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