Local 6 confronts person of interest in deadly Turnpike hit & run

Man came forward to Troopers Thursday

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Only Local 6 spoke with a tractor-trailer driver thought to be responsible for a double fatal hit-and-run.

Robert Bates met with investigators for the Florida Highway Patrol in Vero Beach on Thursday said an FHP spokesman. At that meeting, which was set up through his attorney, Bates did not reveal any details about the crash.

He was not arrested, not charged, and was free to go after the interview with investigators. Late Thursday, Local 6's Shaun Chaiyabhat found Bates as he came to his home in Sanford.

Reporter: "You've hired an attorney?"
Bates: "Yes."
    "I've already talked to the police. So I have nothing further to say."
Reporter: "Was there a reason why you hired an attorney as opposed to just talking to police immediately?"
Bates: "Sir, I have nothing to say."

The FHP identified 68-year-old Robert Bates as a person of interest in the crash, which happened about 7:45 p.m. Monday.

Investigators say the tractor-trailer crashed into two deaf people changing a tire on the shoulder of the Turnpike near Fort Pierce, killing both of them.

Troopers said Bates, on the advice of his attorney, did not make a statement, but told them the location of the tractor-trailer in the Central Florida area.

A manager at the Adult Toy Storage confirms troopers came to the business between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday. Neighbors say the troopers visited the back lot where management said the truck was parked in an area with no cameras.

FHP is not releasing the exact location where they are keeping the truck currently.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending. Troopers said the front of the truck has significant damage and there was no way the driver would not have felt a crash.

The victims in the crash were identified as 19-year-old Mariah King, of Davenport, and 24-year-old Vincent Mathews, of Lakeland.  King and Mathews, former students at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, died at the scene along the northbound Turnpike near mile marker 166, which is near Ft. Pierce.

The mother of King released a statement, saying," I am angry and yes I want justice, but most of all, I miss two people that I love with all my heart. They had enough challenges in life and they were doing the best that they could."

Troopers said it could take up to a few weeks before an arrest is made and that they still need to prove Bates was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

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