FHP works to cut down on hit-and-run crashes

- Last year, there were 92,000 hit-and-run crashes in Florida. Florida State Highway Patrol troopers said they are trying to cut the number down and bring awareness to staying on the scene.

People whose lives were torn apart by a hit-and-run crash were also talking about their experiences to drive the message home.

Valentine's Day should have been Jim and Joyce Sanders' eighth wedding anniversary. However, instead of celebrating, Jim is speaking out in her memory.

"You have good days and bad days. You try to keep going on with life," he said.

Halloween two years ago, the couple was walking along Palmer Ranch Parkway in Sarasota. They were on a sidewalk, but the sprinklers came on and they moved into the bike lane.

When they stepped out, a truck hit Joyce - then left the scene.

"It is frustrating, it is depressing, it is stressful," said Sanders.

A year later, troopers arrested Christian Scott.

"It should have never of happened. If he had been paying attention that morning..." Sanders said.

For years, the Florida Highway Patrol has pushed the same message: If you are in an accident and leave the scene, you are making things much worse than it would be if you stayed.

"You have turned what may have been a simple citation, is now a criminal event," said Trooper Ken Watson.

Of the 92,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2015, 19,000 had injuries and 186 were fatal. Mark Abbacchi is one of the lucky ones.

"It might not of crossed his mind at that point, but he didn't care. He just didn't care," said Abbacchi.

Last June, Mark was going North on I-75 in Sarasota. Traffic was at a standstill, but a car hit him going 50 miles per hour and took off.

"It is just hurtful, just to see somebody laugh at me, drive away with no concern what was wrong with me," he said.

That driver was eventually caught. Mark now lives with back and leg injuries that have put his life on hold. While the drivers in those two crashes were caught, there are many more who are still on the run, causing more pain than necessary for their victims.

"Everyone must understand driving is not a right. It is a privilege and with that privilege comes a lot of responsibility," said Trooper Watson. 

Troopers say if you leave the scene of an accident, you will face felony charges.

The FHP is also working on the 'Bad to Worse' program, which takes troopers to high schools to talk with students about driving responsibly.

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