Family: Apopka man struck by hit-and-run driver dies

Family says Rafael Duarte, 56, has died

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter
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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The family says a 56-year-old Apopka man who was struck by a driver has died.

Rafael Duarte, an employee of Frank Gay Septic, had just completed a service call and was returning to his truck around 6 p.m. on Wednesday. His truck was parked on Lake Drive near Beverly Lane.

Investigators said as he approached the driver's side of the truck, a vehicle hit him. A passerby saw him laying in the road.

Duarte was eventually airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center with very serious injuries, troopers said.

Friday night, Duarte's family said he died as a result of his injuries.

A black side rearview mirror was located at the scene, but troopers said it had no serial or other numbers to identify the type of vehicle.

Duarte's family spent Thanksgiving at his bedside, waiting as he went through several surgeries to repair a broken pelvis, head trauma and damaged organs.

"Nobody deserves to go through this, especially on a special holiday when everyone should be together," said his daughter, Raquel Abonza.

"It's crushing my heart," said son Rafael Duarte, Jr. "It's my father. He's such a great man. Never harmed anybody. He was always happy."

No witnesses have come forward to say they witnessed the crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At this time, troopers said they're looking for anyone who witnessed the hit-and-run incident or may know anything about the vehicle involved.

FHP says the crash remains under investigation.

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