Woman charged in fatal Apopka hit-and-run, police say

Nikita Pope, 31, killed in crash

By Clay LePard - Reporter, Brianna Volz - Web producer

APOPKA, Fla. - Authorities have arrested a woman in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed a 31-year-old woman Saturday morning, according to the Apopka Police Department.

Apopka police said Carmen Clayton, 45, allegedly hit Nikita Pope around 3:30 a.m. as Pope was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 441 at the intersection of Piedmont Wekiwa and Hiawassee roads.

Pope was taken to Florida Hospital Apopka, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

Officers said Clayton allegedly fled before police arrived, but they later arrested her after someone saw a vehicle in a nearby neighborhood that appeared to have been involved in a crash and reported it to the police.

According to the arrest report, Clayton told investigators she thought someone threw a rock through her windshield as a ploy to possibly rob her. She stopped to check, but claimed she didn't see anyone in the road and she didn't know what she hit, so she drove off.

When investigators asked Clayton why she didn't call police, the report states Clayton didn't have an explanation. 

"What was an accident should've stayed as an accident," said Stanley Payne, who said he is the uncle of the victim. "She didn't have to leave or die that way."

Dozens of family members gathered at Pope's home Saturday evening as they searched for answers about what happened to her.

"My sister was a loving person and she didn't deserve to go like that," Shantrelle Pope said.

Those who work where the crash happened said the intersection isn't known for these kind of crashes.

"We have guys who walk to work every day," said Michelle Alderman, the manager at Sweetwater Car Wash. "They walk from Wekiva High School every day and never had anything happen to them."

The family had a message for the driver while police searched for her.

"She was still alive until she went to the hospital," Payne said. "Maybe you could have rendered some aid that could have saved her life. Instead, you walked away and you left this family torn and her son without a mother and without someone to support her."

Pope's family told News 6 on Sunday they are grateful to the person who alerted police and are thankful an arrest was made so quickly.

Clayton is charged with failure to stop at a crash involving death, according to an arrest affidavit. She was booked into the Orange County Jail, where she is being held on $10,000 bail. She bonded out Sunday night.

According to court documents, Clayton was ticketed for failing to stop at a red light in August 2016 at the same intersection where the fatal hit and run happened.  

Apopka police's traffic homicide unit is still investigating the crash.

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