Florida lawmakers seek tougher punishment for hit & run drivers

11:54 PM, Mar 3, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -  A Tampa Bay family is nursing injuries after becoming victims of a hit-and-run driver.

"We're hearing this sliding sound, like a car is coming towards us, and we look, and by the time we noticed it was too late," said Mikeis Rivers.

STORY: Family of four injured in hit and run

Rivers, his mother, girlfriend, and 12-year-old brother were hit while standing in the median of Nebraska Ave. N. and Fowler Ave. E at 3:46 p.m. on Sunday. They were trying to cross the street.

"I [saw] my mom and my girlfriend laying there on the floor," he said.

What happened next is a problem that's been plaguing the Bay area for years.

"She noticed that she hit us. She looked and she fled. She kept going," said Rivers.

The Tampa/St. Petersburg area ranks secibd only to Orlando as the most dangerous city for pedestrians, according to a 2011 survey by Transportation for America. The Florida Highway Patrol says since 2012, there have been 8,848 hit and run incidents. In Pinellas County, there have been 8,267.

Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature returns tomorrow and they are looking for tougher punishment.

In the Florida House, there is a bill that would revoke the hit and run driver's license for three years, if caught.

After such a close call for Rivers and his family, he wouldn't mind tougher penalties.

"They should get their license probably took forever if you're leaving the scene. That just shows that you don't care about nobody's life," said Rivers.

A Senate version of the bill would increase the minimum prison sentence for leaving a scene of a fatal accident from two years to four years.

No one in Rivers' family suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash.            

The vehicle that hit his family is described as a black or dark colored SUV and was last seen headed southbound on Nebraska Ave. before turning eastbound on 109th Ave.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or report it online by visiting the website, www.crimestopperstb.com.

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