Suspect in deadly Lake County DUI crash vanishes, family pleads for help

Victim’s son wants suspect to turn himself in

Suspect in deadly Lake County DUI crash vanishes, family pleads for help
Suspect in deadly Lake County DUI crash vanishes, family pleads for help

LEESBURG, Fla. – Five years after their mother was killed in a Leesburg drunk driving crash, a family is demanding answers after the suspect vanished.

Leesburg police investigators said Lori Ann Dudley, 54, was riding her motorcycle along Highway 441 the night of Aug. 20, 2016, when a vehicle hit her from behind at a stop light.

Lori Ann Dudley, 54, was killed when she was hit from behind while riding her motorcycle on Aug. 20, 2016 (Courtesy: Matt Casey, Copyright WKMG, ClickOrlando.com)

Evidence photos showed the vehicle wedged underneath the bike.

Witnesses told police the driver of the Saturn SUV ran from the scene.

Dudley was pronounced dead.

Her son, Matt Casey, told News 6 he received a call in the middle of the night that his mother had been killed.

“I didn’t believe it at first but then it hit us,” he said.

Jose Omar Azua vanished after posting bond for a deadly DUI crash he was arrested for in 2016. Police are still searching for him. (Courtesy: Lake County Jail)

LPD investigators arrested Jose Omar Azua two days after the crash after they said he confessed to them that he was drinking with friends that night and then drove home.

Police photos showed opened beer bottles inside his vehicle.

Evidence photos show empty beer bottles inside a vehicle police said was driven by Jose Omar Azua the night of Aug. 20, 2016. (Courtesy: Leesburg Police Dept., Copyright WKMG, ClickOrlando.com)

Investigators charged Azua with vehicular homicide, but court records showed he vanished soon after posting $35,000 in bond.

A Lake County judge issued a warrant for his arrest in January 2018, but three years later, he still has not been found.

“I don’t think anyone is (looking for him),” Casey said. “I think it’s one of those things -- that it’s just a done deal and a forgotten case, and if he gets pulled over for speeding maybe it’ll show that he has a warrant, and he will go to jail. But I don’t think anyone’s looking for him.”

But Casey said that’s not enough for him and his family.

“It shouldn’t be enough for anybody,” he said.

News 6 traveled to Azua’s last known address in Leesburg on West Line Street, but residents said he did not live there anymore.

Prosecutors told News 6 they were counting on law enforcement to track him down.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the case is in the hands of the Leesburg Police Department since they were the original arresting agency, but Capt. Joe Iozzi, the spokesman for LPD, said that’s not the case.

He said it’s a county-issued warrant, and Lake County has the U.S. Marshals to help, but that doesn’t mean his officers are not looking.

“Currently, our investigative intelligence indicates he’s no longer in the Central Florida area,” Iozzi said. “Our goals and objectives are to successfully prosecute anybody who commits a crime in our jurisdiction.”

But since Azua has not been seen inside the city limits, Iozzi said his officers’ hands are tied.

“There’s many things I would like to say to him,” Casey said. “Just turn himself in. Deal with this. You created it. Finish it.”

Iozzi said his team fears Azua may have fled home to Mexico and that is one major hurdle in his apprehension.

If you have seen Azua, call Leesburg police at 352-728-9860.


About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.