LARGO, Fla. — A man is dead after being hit by a marked Pinellas County Sheriff's Office unit early Monday morning in Largo.
Just minutes before 5 a.m., investigators say 29-year-old Deputy William Morgan was driving his patrol SUV south on 66th Street when he hit a man who was crossing from west to east. Authorities said the man, whose identity was not immediately released, was not in a crosswalk.
The sheriff's office said Morgan, who was not hurt, immediately stopped and provided first aid. But, the man did not survive.
Neighbors say there is no shortage of traffic accidents along the same stretch of road. Some even call it dangerous. But this time, what started out as an angry confrontation at a nearby gas station turned deadly. And the man who was part of that confrontation says it’s something he’ll never forget.
“I didn’t see the actual impact, like I said, it was dark. But you knew,” Thomas Dunham said.
Dunham says he and his brother stopped at a Circle K store on their way to work when they were approached by a man aggressively asking for a handout.
“Money, and then cigarettes. That’s all he asked for. Money and cigarettes,” Dunham said.
Dunham says when he told the guy they had no cash and no lighter the man got aggressive and started pulling trash from garbage cans at the pump and in front of the store.
“And then he dropped a cup, kicked it across the parking lot, through a couple of other things. Dug through the ashtray. Came back over and asked me for a light. I didn’t even have a lighter on me. And that’s when he was just cussing and took off, you know?” Dunham said.
A couple of minutes later, Dunham says that same man angrily ran out into the darkness of 66th Street. And that’s when they heard a collision.
“We heard something. It didn’t sound like an accident like a solid hit,” Dunham said. “I don’t know how to explain that.”
The sheriff’s office gave no indication that Morgan was on his way to a call at the time of the accident.
Investigators describe the man struck as a local transient, whom they’ll identify after next of kin had been reached. Dunham describes the man who was struck and killed as being in his 20s maybe early 30s. He says he’s often bought food at this same service station for people in need.
Dunham says he’d been beating himself up all day, asking what if he had just bought the guy some food — or a pack of cigarettes?
His family and friends have assured him none of this was his fault.
“Yeah, it’s messed up,” Dunham said. “It’s messed up.”
The Major Accident Investigation Team is investigating the crash, which temporarily shut down the southbound lanes of 66th Street North near Ulmerton Road.