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Man arrested in hit-and-run that left 60-year-old bicyclist dead in Plant City

"To say he will be missed is an understatement, his presence will be around us always, especially at the fishing hole," Robert "Scotty" Cook's family said.

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Plant City police have arrested a driver who they say is responsible for killing a 60-year-old man in a hit-and-run crash Friday evening.

At around 6:35 p.m., Robert "Scotty" Cook was riding a bike westbound on Jim Johnson Road in the area of Jap Tucker Road when a pickup truck crashed into him from behind, the police department said in a news release. 

Officers said the person in the pickup truck, later identified as 39-year-old Thomas Baynard, kept on driving after hitting Cook and did not stop to help him. A witness also said Baynard crashed his truck into a pole near Hillsborough County Fire Station 25 on East Trapnell Road.

Plant City Fire Rescue responded to the crash and provided aid to Cook, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses described the truck as a gray Ford F-150, which authorities said would have damage on the front passenger side and would be missing parts of the front grille that surrounds the front passenger side's headlight. 

Using this recovered debris and surveillance video, police tracked down the pickup truck in a local business parking lot.

Officers went inside the business to find Baynard, who reportedly admitted to driving in the area at the time of the crash. He was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death. 

"It was through the investigating officer's diligence that we were able to locate the suspect and his vehicle in this case. Our prayers for the family continue during this time of loss," Plant City Police Chief James Bradford said in a statement. 

The investigation into the crash is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Plant City Police Department at 813-757-9200.

The family of Robert “Scotty” Cook provided the following statement to 10 Tampa Bay:

"Our family would like to extend an enormous thank you to many people! It goes without saying that this weekend has been a whirlwind since Friday night. From the moment we found out that Scotty had lost his life until just earlier this evening, we have been on an emotional rollercoaster.

"With the diligent efforts of The Plant City Police Department & Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, tonight our family will get to rest.

"Scotty was a great man. A son, brother, uncle, friend and so much more! He was a fisherman, jokester, and could build almost anything you wanted. He would give anything he had to help someone in need.

"To say he will be missed is an understatement, his presence will be around us always, especially at the fishing hole.

"Thank you to everyone that has reached out to help. Your calls, text and social media messages have been much appreciated!

"The family of Scotty Cook"

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the new spelling of Thomas Baynard as corrected by the Plant City Police Department.

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