Fleeing hit-and-run scene could be costly mistake

A surge in accidents with fleeing motorists has extended to the Bay area.

Another hit-and-run crash, this one in a church parking lot and involving a 2-week-old infant.

“We kind of just stood around in shock after it happened, wondering what was going through their heads,” said Matt Horan, Pastor at Seminole Heights Methodist Church for the last three years.

A fun movie night with the church community Saturday turned into a scare after a driver hit a family's car from behind around 7:30 and then took off.

According to police, a Nissan SUV struck a red Hyundai Elantra with the infant inside. Horan says it was a bold move for that driver to take off after multiple people witnessed the crash.

“They weren't there long enough to know there were kids in the (other) car. They kind of stopped, yelled something and then took off,” said Horan.

Even though the infant and its parents were okay, local attorney Lee Pearlman says the driver’s decision to leave can cost them, big time.

“The crime occurs when you decide to leave and everything before that is irrelevant,” said Pearlman.

In 2015, 1,762 hit and runs were reported in Tampa. And so far this year, there have already been nearly 2,000.

Pearlman blames the high numbers to a population increase and while many continue to leave the scene of the accident, he feels punishment for the crime is fair.

“Depending on the circumstances, alcohol being a factor or drugs, that can be an extremely long prison sentence,” he said. 

So you may want to think twice if you decide to step on the gas and flee the scene.

A hit-and-run involving only property damage is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

If a death is involved, it's first-degree felony, with penalties of up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


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