More hit-and-run accidents in Palm Beach County, 501 since New Year's Day

FHP worried as hit and run accidents increase

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- One hundred thirty-one people have been injured in 520 hit-and-run accidents in Palm Beach County since New Year's Day -- adding to the worry for the Florida Highway Patrol that the number of hit-and-run accidents in Florida will continue to climb.

"Florida has nearly 70,000 hit-and-run crashes last year," said Col. David Brierton, FHP Director. "Hit-and-run crashes are a growing problem in Florida."

The Florida Highway Patrol, which collects and analyzes accident data from law enforcement agencies across the state, said the number of hit-and-run accidents in Palm Beach County were also up year-over-year.

In 2012, 1,320 people were injured and six people were killed in 4,485 hit-and-run accidents in Palm Beach County, according to Captain Nancy Rasmussen, FHP Chief of Public Affairs.

Rasmussen said that 1,104 more people were injured in hit-and-run accidents in 2012 compared to the number of people injured in 2011.

She said there were 234 more hit-and-run accidents in 2012 than in 2011.

"How can someone do something so outrageous and leave someone on the side of the road?" asked Maria Luisa Colon, a West Palm Beach resident.

Her son, 33-year-old Luis Rodriguez, was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident in Lake Worth on February 15th.

"My son is in a coma. This has destroyed the whole family. Especially me. He is my only son," she said.

Colon said doctors have told her Rodriguez is not expected to recover.

"If you have a conscience turn yourself in," she said.

Last month, FHP launched a public awareness campaign to reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents in Florida by educating drivers about the consequences they face if they are involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a death is a first-degree felony.

A conviction carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in a state correctional facility and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

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