Polk County detectives looking for driver who backed into elderly man

Polk County detectives believe the driver who hit an 84-year-old man with a walker, knocking him to the ground and driving off, may not have even known they did it. Even worse, Sheriff Grady Judd said no one bothered to help as the man struggled to stand back up.

It was April 15 around 6:15 p.m. Surveillance video at the Citgo gas station and One Stop Food Mart on U.S. Highway 92 in Haines City shows an elderly man walking slowly through the parking lot.

"He doesn't move very well and he's on a walker and he's been to the convenience store," Sheriff Judd explained.

Meanwhile, the driver of a white GMC pickup truck, possibly an early model between 2004 and 2007, starts to back up. The truck's back bumper hits the man, not with a great amount of force, but enough to knock him to the ground.

"I'm not sure that they knew that they hit him because even after they bumped him, they continued to back up a little bit, they didn't roll over him again, and then they calmly pull out," Judd said.

The man did not report the incident or get medical treatment for his injuries.

Five days later, a family member called EMS when they noticed an infected cut. Detectives were then able to connect the dots to the original incident and look up the surveillance video.

Sadly, Sheriff Judd said his condition has worsened, though not solely from the original injury.

"Based upon the information we received, there's a better than average chance that he may not survive," Judd said. "And it was not the original injury. It was added to by the fact that he had the cut, he got infected, he's 84 years old, and he had some diminishing medical episodes that occurred from that."  

Though it's unclear if any charges could be filed based on the circumstances, investigators want to talk to the occupants of that truck to better understand what happened.

But there's one aspect that angers Sheriff Judd even more than the incident itself. No one in the parking lot stopped to help this elderly man get up.

"There's people over here. There's people getting into vehicles, at the gas pump, this person has to drive around him," Judd said, referencing the video. "I am more angry at this person that drove around him in the parking lot, which they had to probably run in and get a beer and cigarettes for the night, you know."

Perhaps some earlier intervention could have changed the outcome. 

"Did they offer to go out and help the old man? No," Judd said. "That ain't Polk County. Folks in Polk County, we stop and help people."

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Detective Lucas at 863-668-3100, reference case number 21-16532.