Help sought in what the Florida Highway Patrol call a hit-and-run ‘outbreak’

In the final chapter of their lives, John Eaton and Kevin Hill shared something in common.

Both motorcyclists died tragic deaths in separate crashes when, after an initial wreck, a second motorist in each case ran them over and left them to die.

Eaton, 46, of DeLand, and Hill, 47, of Sanford, are two of five people killed in the last month in what Florida Highway Patrol officials called an “outbreak” of fatal hit-and-run crashes this year. There have been 13 fatalities from hit-and-runs in Central Florida this year and troopers have only solved three, FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said at a press conference Thursday.

Three of those fatalities occurred in Volusia County.

Families of the victims gathered at the FHP headquarters in Orlando to support troopers’ efforts in asking the public’s help to solve these crimes.

“These are people . . . left to die on the side of the roads by cowards,” Montes said. “They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. They are people with families.”

On Wednesday alone, troopers worked 19 nonfatal hit-and-run accidents and these cases show the number of this type of crash is on the rise, Montes said.

Hit-and-run crashes have left mostly pedestrians dead but motorcyclists, bicyclists, vehicle drivers and passengers have also been killed, Montes said.

Drivers that run most likely are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, have suspended driver’s licenses or are wanted for other crimes, she said. These are not valid excuses to leave somebody on the side of the road, Montes said.

Jamie McWilliams, whose 20-year-old son was killed by a hit-and-run driver on private property seven years ago, agreed.

“There is no excuse to leave someone out like they were last week’s trash,” said McWilliams, who lives in the Orlando area.

Montes said someone might have information they may consider unimportant, but it can be the information they need to “complete the puzzle” of evidence to catch criminals.

“For some of these cases we need the public’s help so these families can have closure,” Montes said.

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