Anyone who has been in a crash knows the rules. You stop, exchange information and make sure everyone is okay. However, believe it or not, there were nearly 70,000 hit and run crashes in Florida last year alone.
"The person went off in the night and here's a couple that was totally devastated," said attorney Luis Figueroa, who represents Zaraida Yuda. She and her fiance were on the way to work with a trip to Disney World planned later that day to celebrate their engagement.
Then came the crash that changed everything.
All anyone saw is surveillance footage of the 5 a.m. accident at 3200 West Hillsborough Avenue. The driver of the truck took off without ever stopping to help.
Yuda and her fiancé don't exactly remember the crash because brain injuries caused them to lose their memory.
"Their whole life changed and it hasn't gotten back to normal," Figueroa said.
Hit and run tragedies happen all too often. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated nearly 70,000 of them last year that killed 168 and injured more than 16,000.
In every case, the driver took off.
"Some people don't have drivers licenses, they don't have insurance, they're scared, they're scared of repercussions, or they don't think there are repercussions to be had," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins with Florida Highway Patrol.
Even if you're one of the 53,000 lucky ones involved in the hit and run crashes with no injury, you could still end up with damage.
"No one pays and you're stuck without a car through no fault of your own," Figueroa said.
He advises his clients that the one thing to do is check your insurance for uninsured motorist protection.
Yuda's case is still open, searching for the driver who disappeared in to the night.
It left the couple with medical bills after a month in the hospital, and the traumatic injuries that may never completely heal.
"They persevered because they are hard working people, but these are life changing events," Figueroa said.
Investigators say here in Tampa Bay area there were more than 3,700 hit and run crashes last year, but only half were solved.
The Florida Highway Patrol wants to curb those numbers and change attitudes by educating drivers about traffic laws and the severe consequences of leaving the scene.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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