DELTONA, Fla. – A good Samaritan was struck and killed along Interstate 4 in Volusia County early Monday while helping change a tire, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The FHP said Edward Keene, 41, of Orlando, died in the crash, which happened around 1 a.m. on I-4 east near the Dirksen Drive Exit in Deltona.
According to his family, Keene pulled over on I-4 to help a disabled man change his tire.
Keene was struck by a Chrysler 300 driven by Fabian Anthony Thomas, 37, of Lakeland, according to the FHP. Keene was pronounced dead at the scene.
Keene is survived by two children, his mother and two siblings, his family said.
"All I know is he was dead and that was it," said the victim's mother Patricia Keene. "It’s nice that he’s getting recognition at least, but I wish he was home."
Patricia Keene said she's disabled and her son took care of her, which is why she said she's not too surprised her son died helping others, although that doesn't lessen her pain.
Troopers said Thomas drove off after striking Keene, but a Volusia County sheriff's deputy spotted him removing his license plate at a RaceTrac gas station and placing his damaged bumper along some nearby woods.
According to troopers, Thomas gave them a different story.
"Troopers get down there and they start evaluating and talk to the gentleman," FHP spokeswoman Kim Montes said. "He says he had a flat tire and that the damage from his car was from the flat tire. They subsequently find his bumper in the tree line adjacent to the gas station."
Troopers said there was more evidence showing that Thomas struck a pedestrian.
"This man was clearly trying to obscure the fact that he'd been involved in a crash," Montes said.
The FHP said the fatal crash is yet another example for drivers to move over when someone is stopped on the shoulder of a road.
"February is hit-and-run month in the state of Florida," Montes said. "This continues to be a huge problem."
Thomas was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash.
In 911 calls deputies released hours after the crash, people driving nearby told dispatchers they saw the aftermath and saw people giving the victim CPR.
"It almost dragged the guy and the guy was laying on the ground," one caller said.
Another caller said, "He looked like he was hit by something but he didn’t look responsive."
Montes provided safety tips for anyone helping a motorist with a disabled vehicle:
1. Pull your vehicle completely out of the roadway.
2. Activate your emergency hazard lights.
3. Carry a reflective vest and put it on when you get out of the vehicle.
4. Carry an electronic flare, to place behind your vehicle.
5. Always keep you head on a swivel to watch oncoming traffic.
6. Utilize the road rangers (if available) – they will change your tire for free and have the safety equipment to notify oncoming drivers of a problem
7. If you are not assisting, stay inside of your vehicle to minimize the number of pedestrians at a scene.
8. If you feel that it is too dangerous, call 911 and ask for assistance
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