WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Highway Patrol hosted a press conference warning drivers to stay on the scene of a crash.
Parents who know the pain of hit-and-run accidents all too well, helped them make their point, Tuesday.
Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson said, “Our main concern today is if you saw something, please say something.”
In late September, Montaj Boykins Sr. was fixing his broken-down Nissan Maxima sedan on State Road Nine near Northwest 22nd Avenue when police said a burgundy Ford F-150 pickup truck hit him around 1:30 a.m. The driver never stopped.
Boykins died a few days later at the hospital from his injuries.
Maggie Boykins, Boykins’ mother, talked about the damage done to her family.
“That was my first born, and it’s like one half of me is gone now,” she said.
One month earlier, on Sunday, Aug. 19, Christopher and Meredith Tunez were traveling on the Palmetto Expressway near Bird Road with their three young sons. The couple’s car was clipped by a speeding red Jaguar, and it sent their car out of control before it crashed into a median. The car was then hit again by another car. The driver never stopped.
Christopher Tunez said, “My kids could have died. You guys saw them up here, full of life, making a scene while were trying to do this press conference, and we could have been short one kid, and the driver had no idea what happened, so staying on the scene and helping the family get closure, really, you can’t put a price on that.”
The Boykins and Tunez families represent two of more of than 100,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2018, which claimed 198 lives, officials said.
“We were here just a year ago, and we talked about it rising to epidemic proportions,” Florida Highway Patrol Major Chris Della Pietra said. “Well, I’m here to tell you again, a year later, that the epidemic has continued, and it has worsened.”
It’s why there is still a need for Hit-and-Run Awareness Month.
Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries is a third-degree felony and comes with serious penalties that are increased if someone is killed.
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alex Camacho said, “The most important thing a driver can do is stay on the scene and call for help when involved in a crash.”
“Leaving the scene is not a mistake; it’s a crime,” Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said.
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