FHP Troopers talk to owner of vehicle from fatal hit-and-run

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Florida Highway Patrol Troopers said they have interviewed the owner of a car they said was involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Osceola County on Sunday.

Troopers said 65-year-old Rafael Cotto, of Kissimmee, was found lying on the west shoulder of US-441, north of Carrol Street.

Officers said the driver of the car that hit Cotto was traveling in an unknown direction when the front right side of the car struck the victim.

Authorities said the owner of the car is cooperating and that the damage to the vehicle is consistent with the hit-and-run.

Cotto's sister, Lisa Van Dam, said her brother was a "child of the 60s" who loved rock and roll and who taught her a lot about life.

"What remains of Ray is that spirit of no matter what, you stay positive, you just keep going," said van Dam.

Van Dam said she and her sibling lost their mother a month ago and now they are preparing for another family funeral.

"It's rough. We're not revengeful people that we want harm on somebody, but this is incomprehensible to leave the scene," said Van Dam.
 
Troopers did not identify the owner of the car, other than to say she is in her 20s.

State records show that last year FHP troopers investigated 83 hit-and-runs in Florida. So far this year they have investigated 21, five of the hit-and-runs have been in Florida.

"This has become an epidemic, not only here in Orlando, but in central Florida and in the state," said Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a mandatory minimum four-year prison sentence for any driver convicted of a fatal hit-and-run. Currently, the maximum sentence is 30 years, but there is no minimum sentence.

"So any increase in punishment would hopefully deter those people in the future who even think about leaving," said Montes.

Van Dam said she doesn't want the driver who killed her brother to go to prison for the rest of their life, but she does want justice.

"We all have to face the consequences of what we do," said Van Dam.