State troopers say data shows hit-and-runs rising in state

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

With record-breaking statistics, state troopers with Florida Highway Patrol say the agency needs to hire more specialized troopers to solve the growing amount of hit-and-run cases in the state.

FHP says with current specialists, it’s not enough to prevent the rise in hit-and-run crashes on local roads.

The last thing Codie Doolin remembers after a driver hit him while he was riding his motorcycle on I-75 is flying through the air. That was back in January.

”He threw me almost a football field away from his car,” Doolin said. “He could have killed me, and he fled the scene.”

After the crash, Doolin spent three months in bed, lost his job and is still recovering from his injuries.

“I was lucky to only break my pelvic bone and have the road rash,” Doolin said. “Other people aren’t lucky.”

Data show more than 100,000 crashes were hit-and-runs over the past three years in Florida. State troopers say the area is on track to see another year of skyrocketing statistics.

”That’s a problem, and we all know that,” State Trooper George Smyrnios said.

Smyrnios is one of two state troopers with FHP who specialize in tracking down hit-and-run drivers.

“I reopen them, re-interview people, look for additional evidence,” Smyrnios said.

On average, Smyrnios solves two to three cases on a weekly basis. But with all the cases lately, there is a need for more assistance.

FHP is on pace to end 2019 with 20 more arrests for hit-and-runs than it made last year.

“The department personally needs to grow really,” Smyrnios said. “We got to fill these vacant positions that we have, so our troopers can service the roadway. And we can create additional spots to do what I’m doing.”

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