Hit-and-run suspect struck two bicyclists in Auburndale, deputies say

- An Auburndale man is accused of crashing his truck into two bicyclists, and leaving the scene, deputies say.

On Monday, 26-year-old Cody Wheeler was arrested for a hit-and-run crash that occurred on April 25. Polk County deputies say the two female victims, both in their 30s, were riding their bicycles on Spirit Lake Road near Thornhill Road after midnight. They were both struck from behind by an unknown vehicle, deputies say. Both bicycles had operational lights. 

The victims had “significant” injuries and were transported to a nearby hospital, deputies say. Debris analysis and surveillance cameras helped deputies identify the suspect vehicle, a white 2014 Chevy Silverado. One of the co-registrants was Wheeler, they say.

Cody’s girlfriend confirmed they own the truck, deputies say. She told them he arrived home around 12:30 a.m. on April 25, and asked her to remove her vehicle from the garage so he can park the truck, which had a broken headlight, inside it. Deputies say he told her he hit something.

When questioned, Wheeler said he knew he crashed into something, stopped a nearby Publix to inspect the truck’s damage, and drove home, deputies say. He said he didn’t know what he hit, they added.  

“When we went to the house, we determined that [Cody’s girlfriend] had pulled her vehicle out so Cody could hide the truck,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “When we arrested Cody, he confessed.”

Wheeler faces charges including leaving the scene of a crash. 

“No one likes a criminal to run over people and leave them in the road for dead,” Judd said. “Had he stayed there that night, he would have been in a lot less trouble and maybe no trouble. But he left these people for dead on the road.”

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