WIMAUMA (FOX 13) - The driver and passenger who fled a deadly early-morning single-vehicle crash in Wimauma Friday were taken into custody hours later after being spotted by a few witnesses, including a FOX 13 crew.
The accident occurred on southbound U.S. 301 near Bishop Road just after 1 a.m. Friday. According to Florida Highway Patrol, the SUV, a 2004 GMC Yukon, was headed southbound when the driver lost control for unknown reasons. The vehicle rotated, left the roadway, and collided with several trees before coming to a rest.
Investigators said three people were in the car at the time of the crash. The driver and one passenger ditched the vehicle and disappeared into the woods, leaving another passenger in the car who was killed in the crash.
Several hours later, FOX 13's Alcides Segui saw two shirtless men walking down U.S. 301 a short distance away from the crash.
"We were parked along the side of the road and there was a construction crew that was working nearby, they drove up on us and said, 'we just saw two men walk out of the woods without shirts on.' So right away that was a red flag for us, we called 911," Alcides explained during a live report on Good Day. "We got in our truck and we started to follow these guys."
Troopers showed up and stopped the men. They identified the driver as Oscar Lopez-Yesca, 22, and the passenger who survived as Moliton Ramirez-Mati, 23, both of Wimauma.
Investigators believe both men are undocumented immigrants which, according to a law enforcement expert, can cause detectives a lot of problems if they get away.
"We don't have driver's license, we don't have social security, we don't have finger prints," said Jim Diamond, a retired Tampa Police sergeant who has nearly 50 years of experience. "The ones who commit a crime and who are undocumented basically are invisible. If we lose them after the commission of a crime, they may just fade away because there's no anchor and nothing in our research or investigative processes that would lead to an identity."
Diamond said it's a good thing witnesses spotted the men and called 911.
"I would suspect that with the seriousness of this, with the thrid individual in the vehicle dying, that the other two -- had they had the opportunity -- would have either left the state or left the country completely," Diamond told FOX 13.
FHP believes Lopez-Yesca was drunk at the time of the crash, but he won't be charged with DUI because too much time had passed before he was arrested. He's facing several other charges, including leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.
Diamond said deportation is a possibility, but prosecutors will have to decide whether that's something they want to pursue.
But it was FOX 13's Alcides Segui who spotted the men walking southbound along U.S. 301.
BREAKING: Men involved in hit and run crash this morning ARRESTED. We spotted them walking down the street and called 9-11 pic.twitter.com/28Hb1H4SWq— Alcides Segui FOX (@seguifox13) March 24, 2017