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Police conduct CSI-like hunt for hit-and-run truck driver

Investigators check for surveillance video, witnesses, paint transfer

TAVARES, Fla. – Jim Juillerat is clinging to life in a hospital bed in Lake County with a tracheotomy and feeding tube. His daughter fears a blood clot may dislodge from his chest and kill him.

"It's touch and go," said Christy Juillerat-Armstrong. "He still has a tube that's been surgically inserted down his throat, he has a machine breathing for him."

Jim Juillerat was hit by a truck and left for dead on Sept. 13. Hurricane Irma overshadowed the crash, and Juillerat's family and Tavares Police have been trying to spotlight it ever since.

"We want justice for the family and we can't give it to them," said Tavares Traffic Homicide Investigator Jacob Bledsoe. "It's very frustrating for us as it is for the family."

Bledsoe and his partner, Officer Douglas Roberts, have pounded the pavement for the last several weeks trying to find out who was driving the light-colored truck that plowed into the back of Juillerat's Honda Goldwing motorcycle on State Road 19, near the entrance to Royal Harbor.

They tracked down the man who made a 911 call and hung up immediately after the accident. The man saw Juillerat's body flying through the air and landing on SR 19. He said he saw a pickup leaving the scene.

The investigators put out a newsletter to the entire Royal Harbor neighborhood and discovered three women walking had also heard the crash.

"One lady even described it as a work truck or farm truck," Bledsoe said. "A full-sized white/tan/silver pickup truck with a standard cab."

News 6 cameras were there as Roberts visited a nearby Shell gas station. He approached the clerk and asked if any cameras pointed in the direction of the highway.

"Hey, we had a wreck that happened on (State Road) 19 a few weeks ago and we're hoping to look at surveillance video that would show the suspect pulling into the parking lot or something. Do you have cameras?" asked Roberts.

The clerk said unfortunately not.

Roberts said he would keep checking.

"Maybe (we might see) the suspect truck pulling into the parking lot maybe to check for damage," Roberts said. "Just (a picture of) the vehicle would be great, that's what we're hoping for, just a vehicle."

Roberts also showed News 6 how he scraped the white paint off the back of Juillerat's motorcycle.

 "Just took my pocketknife, the edge of the blade, and just kind of scraped at it and held the paper up under the motorcycle in this area until it fell into the paper, and collected enough to be able to send in a sample," Roberts said.

Roberts sent the sample to the FDLE state crime lab and is awaiting results. He expects the lab will identify at least the make and model of the truck. Then he'll check the DMV database for the truck and potential driver.

"People that would be of interest, maybe people that might have a warrant or suspended license, or prior DUIs," Roberts said.

Juillerat's daughter is begging people to help investigators and her father get results.

"Disheartening that there is somebody out there with no morals that stops, gets out and looks at my dad laying on the pavement bleeding, and gets in and drives off," Juillerat-Armstrong said.

She's asking the public to share this story.

 "I don't understand that type of person. I don't understand how you sleep at night, I have trouble sleeping at night,"  Juillerat-Armstrong said.

She said her father's medical bills are already close to $1 million.

She started a GoFundMe page to help pay his medical costs.
 


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