Palm Beach County hit & run survivor urges driver to come forward

PBSO searching for driver, possible witness

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A local man says a driver nearly killed him as he was trying to cross the street in West Palm Beach.

Michael Thornhill, 28, said he was hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Military Trail and Westgate Avenue early Saturday morning.

It happened so quickly that Thornhill said he did not even know what hit him.

"Next thing I know I woke up on the ground, bleeding out of my head and my leg and in a lot of pain," he said.

Thornhill said he sustained a shattered heel, road rash all over his back, and a gash in his head; now held together by two staples.

A witness at the intersection just after 5 a.m. on Saturday rushed to Thornhill's side and called 911.

"When I woke up, the guy was like, 'don't move. I just saw it. I just saw the guy leave'," Thornhill said of the witness.

A spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told a fire rescue medic that he saw a white SUV hit Thornhill and then take off. But by the time PBSO deputies arrived, that witness was gone too. Authorities say they need to talk to that man who could be the key to finding the driver responsible.

"It felt like a horrible nightmare," said Thornhill. Now, he says, he just wants to find the person who caused that nightmare. "In my head, you're just leaving that person to die," he said. "They're just leaving you to die. You're just roadkill to them and they really don't care."

PBSO investigators are not only searching for the driver involved but also for the man who may have witnessed incident. Contact Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 458-TIPS with any information.

Florida is notorious for hit and run crashes. In 2012, nearly 70,000 were reported in the state; many of them fatal.

State lawmakers recently voted to crack down on drivers who leave the scene of a crash.

The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, named after a Miami cyclist killed by a driver who left the scene, has yet to be signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The measure would make it a mandatory sentence of at least four years - depending on the severity - for someone involved in a hit and run crash.