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Deaf couple killed by hit-and-run trucker while changing tire

It's unclear what's going on in the minds of drivers who flee the scene of a fatal accident, especially if they are at fault. In the past, limited technology made it much easier to escape liability for these serious crimes. Yet in today's digital age, traffic surveillance cameras, GPS tracking and cell phones have given the long arm of the law a much longer reach in tracking hit-and-run criminals. However, justice alone does not bring comfort to the hearts of grieving families. For the families of a young deaf couple in Polk County who were killed by a hit-and-run tractor-trailer while changing a tire, the grief is still fresh.

The couple, a 19-year-old woman and 24-year-old man, had met and fallen in love at a school for the deaf in North Florida. While they were parked appropriately on the paved shoulder with sufficient clearance, a 66-year-old truck driver ran into the couple and their vehicle with his tractor-trailer on Florida's Turnpike. While it is possible that they could have run to safety had they been able to hear the truck veering off the road, the truck driver was most likely driving in a state of fatigue, distraction or intoxication to make such serious errors in judgment. Additionally, this man has a history of reckless driving offenses.

State troopers provided tollbooth photos of the trucker's damaged vehicle after the incident, and reported him to Florida law enforcement agencies. His truck was not equipped with a GPS device, which can sometimes help track hit-and-run drivers. Although his identity is now known, he is currently at large. He faces first-degree felony charges for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. If he alters or fails to return his vehicle, he could face additional charges.

While no settlement will ever buy new life for these promising young adults or remove the grief of their loved ones, it could cause others to think twice before abandoning an accident scene. It will also buy the families the time they need to grieve and heal, as well as cover necessary funeral expenses and loss of property.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Sanford big-rig driver wanted after crash kills Polk couple" Jerriann Sullivan, Oct. 09, 2013

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