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Proposed law to make tougher Hit & Run penalties
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- Florida Highway Patrol is trying to track down a driver who hit and killed a bicyclist.
They believe he was driving a red Dodge pick-up truck.
Last year, preliminary reports from the Florida Highway Patrol reported more than 2,305 hit and run crashes throughout Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
State lawmakers want to see tougher penalties for drivers who flee the scene of a hit and run accident.
Jackson Street is no stranger to hit and runs. A makeshift memorial sits at the intersection of Jackson and Wiggins Avenue for Mike Fowler who was killed on News Years Day.
The New Year was only 2 hours old when Mike Fowler, 60, was killed in a hit and run.
"This man right here went through torture, fell out the back of the truck and the man just run slap over him for no reason" said Jeffery Brown, friend of victim.
Jeffery Brown had been friends with Fowler for 8 years. They would often ride bikes together.
"I seen him all the time going over there to the store and everything and he didn't harm nobody" said Brown.
Brown is in full support of a proposed law that would create stricter penalties for those convicted of a hit and run.
Under the proposed law, guilty drivers could have their license suspended for at least 3 years.
If a person is injured in a hit and run, the driver could face a minimum of 5 to 7 years in prison.
If the person dies, the driver could face a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Voters have mixed opinions about the proposed law.
"This is a step in the right direction, yes sir" said Brown.
"I think there should be penalties but to have an absolute minimum of ten years may be too much" said Margie Jane, voter.
"We put away a lot of people that shouldn't be put away that should be given help instead" said Bobbie Herzog, voter.
Eva Dupont says her son was involved in a hit and run accident two years ago also on Jackson Street.
He managed to survive and recover from most of his injuries but relies on the assistance of a caregiver.
"The doctors told me to pull (the plug on my son) and I wouldn't do it" said Eva Dupont, son victim of hit and run.
Like many with loved one who have fallen victim of a hit and run, Dupont and Brown want to see tougher laws on the books.
"He can't be left alone and he's a 50 year old man so I'm glad somebody is doing something" said Dupont.
Florida Highway Patrol is still looking for the person behind the wheel in the hit and run on News Years Day.
If you have information, call (850) 471-6924.