CLEARWATER, Fla. - A Clearwater great grandfather has died from injuries he suffered in a hit and run back on March 20, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
Sylvia Baughey remembers all the emergency workers parked out near her driveway trying to help her 78-year-old neighbor, Edward Ortwein, who was just out walking his dog, Brutus.
She says, "They said it looks like maybe he'd fallen or something, and they said that he was OK and that he was alive and so, at that point, I was hoping that he'd make it."
With a young daughter at home, Baughey hosed the blood off her driveway when the paramedics cleared out. She says, "It had to be, I think, an hour later, or an hour or two later, and they came back out here. It was actually the police officers that came back out here and that's when they decided it was a crime scene at that point."
Clearwater police spokesperson Joelle Castelli, reached by phone Monday evening, says that's not true. She says the incident was not initially investigated as a fall.
Investigators say Ortwein was run over near the corner of South Drive and East Drive around 7:00 in the morning. The driver didn't bother to stop. On Friday, Ortwein, a retired truck driver from New York, died due to his injuries.
Ortwein's son, Rick, spoke to us by phone from his home in New York and says, "I thought the police maybe should have investigated it right from the get-go instead of waiting two hours later to go back there and then circle it all off and try to do an investigation. Two hours can mean a lot. People could have come back, put things down the sewer drain, picked them up."
Dr. Tony Falco says Ortwein and his dog walked by Grace Lutheran Church every morning for several years. It was so often that church members came to expect them. Dr. Falco says he would make sure he had plenty of dog treats on hand to give Brutus.
Falco says, "And if I were inside they'd come in and they'd say, 'Tony Brutus is out there.' So then I'd go out to the trunk and the dog would be sitting there."
He adds, "The whole church was devastated. They said prayers for him."
Falco even visited Ortwein in the hospital on several occasions. He says Ortwein told him that the vehicle that hit him was a red Pontiac.
Rick Ortwein says he's not sure about that, though, because he says he asked his father on several occasions if he got a look at the car and he told him he was hit from behind.
Chip Davis got emotional when we told him his friend passed away. He wasn't the only one. A woman in the neighborhood where it happened burst into tears when 10 News crews told her Ortwein passed away and that Brutus, Ortwein's dog, has since died of cancer.
Davis says Ed and Brutus would always stop by when he was out working in his garage. He says, "People race through here. I mean Ed was a good guy -- that dog was his life. The mentality of the people out there nowadays, it really doesn't surprise me a whole lot that they took off. But he's the nicest guy you could ever want to meet."
10 News tried on numerous occasions on Monday afternoon to get a copy of the 911 call Clearwater police say Ortwein made right after he was hit, but police were not able to provide it.
Ortwein's son, Rick, however, says, "They said my dad called from his cell phone to the police station, and said he was hit by a car. He straight up said 'I didn't make a phone call to nobody.'
I wanted to hear the phone call they said they got to see if it's my dad's voice or not. If it was, that's great. If it wasn't, then who was it?"