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Victim's family asks hit-and-run driver to turn himself in

1:45 AM, Feb 24, 2014   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida -- A man was killed while riding his bike overnight Friday. His body was found in a ditch along Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane in Lakeland. A memorial has been set up at the scene. 

Eric Pope's sister and his family say they are too upset to go there, but they did make crosses and gathered flowers. They had someone else place them at the memorial. 

Mandy Messer said, "I cant bring myself to visit. Just can't go. It's an accident, when you stop."

But authorities say whoever hit and killed 32-year-old Pope kept driving. Messer said her brother was following all the rules: he rode with traffic, wore a reflective vest, and had lights on his bike.

"I am angry, but can't let my emotions be that way towards someone. It'll eat me up alive. I can forgive them."

Messer and her family say that forgiveness isn't easy. "I didn't sleep last night, cried all night. I screamed. It's hard for me to deal with this."

Her husband, who was best friends with Pope, said, "It was heartbreaking. I cried. It really hasn't sunk in yet for me. Have to be strong for the family."

Pope leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter.

The family is looking for answers, but so is the Polk County Sheriff's Office. If you know anything helpful, they want to hear from you. Call (863) 577-1600. The suspect is said to be driving a light-colored Dodge pickup truck, possibly silver or white.

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