MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Florida Highway Patrol troopers have arrested Frederick Welde, 81, in connected with a deadly hit-and-run crash in Marion County Tuesday morning.
Troopers said they got the call for a sick and injured person found at the intersection of State Road 200 and SW 88th Terrace around 7:30 a.m.
"When they got to the scene, it was discovered it was more than a sick or injured person, it was a person who got killed," said FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan.
Troopers identified the victim as Trilvell Middleton, 30. They said his body was surrounded by pieces of a white Nissan Frontier, a pickup truck they believe was involved.
At 9:46 a.m., troopers said, they got a call from Marion County deputies who said that they found a truck matching that description, with front-end damage, at the Walmart gas station down the road on State Road 200. Troopers said the that truck matched the evidence left behind at the scene.
Riordan also said investigators found surveillance video from Walmart and that Murphy's gas station, which helped piece together a timeline and picture of the suspect.
"With the find of the vehicle here in the parking lot, it helped tremendously," Riordan said. "We were able to get some video footage. It did give us a little bit of a time frame of when this occurred. We are saying sometime after midnight is when the crash occurred at 12:30 a.m. the suspect drove into this Walmart and 10 minutes later was picked up in an unknown SUV and left the scene."
Troopers said the pickup truck that was abandoned was registered to Welde and led them right to his front door. Welde was arrested at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, just six hours after the victim was found. Riordan said hit-and-run cases like this one rarely ever get solved so quickly.
"It was a great series of events today," Riordan said. "Crashes are going to occur. We know that. But it's just better for everybody involved to stay at the scene which is required by law."
Scott Powell lives at the Pine Run Subdivision near the scene of the crash. He said troopers both surrounding the victim and then again surrounding the truck at the Walmart down the road. He believes that since the victim was found more than seven hours after troopers said the crash happened, that he could have still been alive if the driver would have just stopped.
"If you stopped and you called 911, then you could help him," Powell said. "You don't do that, I don't care if you are impaired or whatever, you have to stop."
Marion County deputies said Welde was taken to the hospital, per protocol, to be checked out before he is booked into jail.