Polk bicyclist killed in hit-and-run crash - FOX 13 News

Polk bicyclist killed in hit-and-run crash

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BARTOW (FOX 13) -

Mandy Messer holds tight to her family photos. They're now her only way to see her brother Eric Pope.

"Eric was a wonderful all around guy quiet person, didn't do nothing wrong to anybody. He lived to please everybody," she said.

Eric didn't have much, but he did have a 4-year-old daughter and friends said she was his life.

"He went to work every day. He went to work when he was sick, he didn't miss work. He had his job and his daughter, that is all he thought about," said Tammy Ritch.

But on his way home from work Saturday morning, his life was cut short..

"Most of the time he rode the bike to work, but a friend bring him back in a car," Ritch said.

But not Saturday. His friend had other plans, so when his shift at a recycling plant ended around one, he hopped on his bike.

"He was coming home from work. He was wearing a reflective vest and he had lights on his bicycle. This guy hits in him in the middle of the night and leaves him dead on the side of the road. It infuriates us," said Sheriff Grady Judd.

Sheriff Judd is confident his deputies have identified the suspect who hit and killed Eric Pope, but he says it will take some time before they can name him.

"Wouldn't you know he just changed the hood on it over the weekend, and he just changed the hood after Saturday," Judd said, referring to the suspect's truck.

The sheriff said he also hired a lawyer.

He will wait for forensics to confirm it, but he is sure.

"We've not only got the truck in that was used in the hit and run, but we also have found the hood that was taken off the vehicle. He replaced the headlight, and we've gotten the broken headlight. Despite him trying to conceal evidence, it did not do him a bit of good," Judd said.

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