February 20, 2013

Florida agencies band together

Campaign underway to help reduce hit and run crashes

February 20, 2013 Andrew McGee Suwannee Democrat


Live Oak — Suwannee County cold case

Pace then gave a brief description of some of the hit and run cases they’ve worked on namely one that happened in Suwannee County last year on Sept. 27. It involved the hit and run of a pedestrian, Steve W. Mathis on CR 137. It happened during the evening hours at approximately 9:35 p.m.

“Mr. Mathis had gotten one of his vehicles stuck on the shoulder of the roadway and called the tow truck,” said Pace.

“The tow truck driver was parked in the southbound travel lane,” said Berger.

Pace said that a northbound black vehicle came along and while passing the truck and Mathis, struck Mathis and continued northbound. Mathis died at the scene.

Pace then showed a picture of the vehicle that was recovered just the next day about four miles north of the crash scene. It had been abandoned and the tag was missing.

“FDLE (Florida Department Law Enforcement) seized a considerable amount of forensic evidence that is being processed in that case,” said Berger. “There was a lot of physical and DNA-type evidence.”

“They have some prints they put in their automated system because they didn’t have a match,” said Siegmeister. “And some DNA as well.”

Pace wanted to encourage anyone that might recognize the vehicle or know something about the hit and run, to contact FHP immediately.

“That obviously is the most likely to be solved, the one where we have the vehicle,” said Siegmeister. “We’d like to solve all of them, but the one that we know was driving is a matter of identifying who owned it at the time.”

As the conference was being wrapped up, Boatright thanked all who were contributing to the new campaign to making it a success.

“We appreciate the press coverage we’ve had in the past,” said Boatright. “We’ve been very successful on hit and run crashes especially when we’ve had fatalities or bodily injuries in this region. The media has helped us out a bunch.”

Boatright said that whenever they get any information about a crash, they follow through to see if it leads to getting any closer to solving the case. He said that there are times they will do a ‘follow up’ and things don’t pan out, but that it’s imperative to keep at them and use every resource they have to solve it.

“Actually another tip came in about one of the cases,” said Berger. “We’ll have our crime analyst looking into it now to see if there’s anything to go with before I confront people and interview other witnesses. Every once in awhile, another will come in, we’ll sit on it again for whatever it takes to see if we can solve it.”

Pace concluded saying sometimes solving the case is not only hopefully bringing about justice in a tragic situation, but for a family to get closure, to heal emotionally.

For more about FHPs new hit and run campaign go to www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/HitRun/

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