Hit-and-run crash leaves 82-year-old motorcyclist with critical injuries

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An 82-year-old Winter Haven man is in the hospital while Florida Highway Patrol troopers search for the driver who caused him to wreck his motorcycle.

Around 5 p.m. April 13, James Berry was on his red Harley Davidson motorcycle, traveling south on U.S. 17 in Wauchula, Florida.

At the same time, FHP says the driver of a pickup truck was leaving the Wauchula Supermarket parking lot. Troopers say the driver crossed through the southbound lanes, toward the median, violating Berry's right of way. With no time to react, Berry crashed his motorcycle into the left side of the truck.

A man who sells fruit by the road witnessed it all. He spoke through a translator and asked not to be identified.

"We were right here just selling watermelons and we heard a loud noise and turned around and saw it," the man said. "The person wasn't moving at all and the guy just left with no worries."

Troopers hope with so many witnesses, they will find the driver quickly.

"I saw a white Dodge out there and I saw the bike on the ground and there was a person there on the ground," Ruby Martinez, who works at the Wachula Supermarket, recalled.

But what happened next, stunned her.

"That person actually got out of the truck and looked at the person on the ground and... he left," Martinez said.

FHP says the driver of the truck took off, traveling north on U.S. 17. Witnesses describe the truck as being a white 4-door Dodge Ram.

Witnesses ran out to help Berry. One woman took his pulse while another man lifted the bike off of his leg.

"For a person to leave a person like that is a bad thing to do," the male witness said.

Berry was rushed to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with critical injuries. He's now fighting to recover while the person who put him there is still free to roam the streets.

"I wouldn't do that," Martinez said. "I would want to stay right there. I would do everything I possibly could, especially, if I hurt someone."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800 or Crime Stoppers. They say that one tip, no matter how insignificant a person may think it is, could lead to additional tips and solving the case.