FHP launches hit-and-run awareness campaign

Troopers say issue is growing issue

Local 6 News at Noon
Local 6 News at Noon

ORLANDO, Fla. – Over a dozen Central Florida families who have lost loved ones in hit-and-run crashes came together Monday to bring attention to what troopers are calling a growing problem.

According to troopers, fatal hit-and-run crashes are up, increasing by 20 percent last year.

In 2013, there were 149 fatal hit-and-run crashes, almost 40 less than the 184 who were killed last year.

Some families at the Florida Highway Patrol news conference, which was held in Orlando, sought answers.

"Who are they? What were they thinking? Were they drunk did they have drugs in the car?  Did they not have insurance? Are they haunted like we are?" said Jean Martin, who is still searching for the driver who killed her father.

Others had more answers in the hit-and-run crashes that killed their loved ones, but they said the pain doesn't go away.

"Seeing other people going through the same thing it makes us empathize with them, but it still all bounces back and makes us think of what we lost," said Nicole Quintus, who lost her daughter Lily in a KinderCare crash last year.

Since losing her son, Justin, Jamie McWilliams has made it her life's work to educate young drivers and fight for stricter consequences for those who leave the scene of a crash.

"You pull from deep within in order to pick up and go on everyday and that's what I do in his memory, that's what I've had to do," she said.

McWilliams created a nonprofit called "Parents Encouraging Confident Choices."

For crashes that happened after July 2014, there is now a mandatory minimum of four years in prison for convicted drivers who left the scene involving death.