‘Turn yourself in:’ Family of Orange County hit-and-run victim searches for answers

Hugo Penilla, 39, identified as victim killed in crash

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Shawna Penilla is now left with no siblings after her only brother, 39-year-old Hugo Penilla, was killed last week in a hit-and-run crash.

“He was my little brother, and that makes it extra challenging,” Shawna Penilla said.

Hugo was struck by a car just before midnight on University Boulevard at Goldenrod Road near Winter Park.

“He’s the most caring, generous, creative, funny person, and he was so resilient,” Shawna Penilla said. “I always wanted to protect him.”

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A video was shared by the Florida Highway Patrol. Although hard to see, it appears to show Hugo walking across the westbound lanes of University Boulevard.

Troopers said he attempted to cross the median, tripped and then fell into the eastbound lane before he was struck by a car.

The car is described a dark blue Toyota Camry.

“You know something happened, and then you just left. I don’t understand how a human can do that,” Shawna Penilla said.

She said Hugo called their mom a few days earlier and made plans to come visit them in Orlando from Daytona Beach.

He was struck by the car just 10 minutes from Shawna’s home.

“It just makes it more gut wrenching how close he got from Daytona Beach, and didn’t make it here,” she said.

Shawna recalled the morning she learned the bad news.

“I pulled up and saw the state troopers here in the parking lot, and I had a bad feeling,” Shawna Penilla said. “Within a couple minutes, I got the loud bang at the door, and they asked for my ID, and it matched my brother’s finger print.”

She said her brother navigated several health challenges in life.

He was recently discharged from the hospital after undergoing surgery on his colon.

“He fought and fought and went through a lot of pain and survived that, and we were so happy for him to have another chance at life,” Shawna Penilla said.

Now that chance is gone, and the family wants justice.

“My brother had a family people that loved him, and he’s human,” Shawna Penilla said. “He deserved more than that.”

Investigators found a car part at the crash scene believed to be from the suspect vehicle.

They said it’s a part of the left front wheel from a dark blue Toyota Camry.

Anyone with information about the crash or auto shops that have recently done work on a vehicle like the one described are urged to contact FHP at 407-737-2213 or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS to remain anonymous.

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About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.