Naples Police Department reopens hit-and-run case after lawyer finds evidence

Reporter: Val Simpson Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
Fernanda Sanchez was hit by a car in Naples. The driver then fled. Police are investigating the case. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A hit-and-run case in Naples was closed just hours after it happened because police said they did not have any leads, but a lawyer hired by the victim thought otherwise.

Fernanda Sanchez, a tourist from Mexico, was biking near the intersection of US-41 and Morningside Drive when a vehicle struck her. The crash happened during the afternoon of Dec. 7 while she vacationing in the area with her friends during the Christmas break.

“I thought he was going to stop, that he was going to be the one to help me,” said Sanchez, 27, said.

But that wasn’t the case. Badly hurt, Sanchez went back to Mexico to get treatment for her injuries.

“My two shoulders up here had injuries, my fingers still go numb, I fractured my ankle, all this live skin, the foot, the ankle and part of the leg,” Sanchez said. “I have scrapes, the fracture is on the right side of the ankle. I also had a concussion, inside my lip was also broken.”

The Naples Police Department went to the scene to investigate the crash. An officer spoke to witnesses, checked traffic cameras, which according to the crash report, were pointed in another direction, failing to capture the crash.

Police closed the case because there was no other evidence to point toward identifiable information to the driver of the car.

There was no record of a press release sent to media requesting more crash information, which is typical in hit-and-run crashes.

The police report does not indicate that an officer checked nearby businesses for video surveillance.

Which is what Mary Fowler, the victim’s lawyer, did.

“It’s about making sure that the person that ran her over … in the matter that it happened … that they are brought to justice,” Fowler said.

A day after the crash, on Dec. 8. Fowler visited a nearby business and got a video of the crash. WINK News confirmed the video’s existence with the business.

Fowler provided the video to police, and police responded by saying it did not show the car’s license plate or any information that could lead to the driver’s identity.

Fowler did not give up. She contacted WINK News before the holidays.

Nearly a month after the crash, Naples police Lt. Bryan McGinn told WINK News the case was closed and he was unaware of any video.

Hours later, he said the was case back open.

“I believe the initiating officer … when they initiated that report listed it as closed, believed that there were no leads to be found and that has been … that has not been the case,” McGinn said. “We’ve been able to find leads so as I said it’s very much active and ongoing.”

The lead is thanks to Fowler’s video and insistence to get the case reopened.

McGinn said the Naples Police Department has a suspect and they are working on an arrest warrant. No one has been arrested yet.

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