Cocoa police search for driver after deadly hit-and-run crash involving tractor-trailer

COCOA, Fla. — Cocoa police are trying to locate the tractor-trailer driver responsible for a deadly hit-and-run crash Thursday morning.

Witnesses said the driver slowed down and appeared to be pulling over before driving off.

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The crash happened at a crosswalk on US-1 near Peachtree Street.

Friends of the hit-and-run victim said they are having a hard time believing the driver didn’t realize he’d struck someone, and they want the driver found.

The road was shut down for several hours as traffic homicide investigators collected evidence.

Scott Winscher said he was passing by the scene when he realized he’d lost a friend.

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“I seen a cup laying in the middle of the road, a black umbrella. And he said it was a little guy with silver hair, and I knew who it was right away,” Winscher said.

Cocoa police said they are still trying to reach family members of the victim.

“Once the truck cleared they realized the pedestrian was on the ground,” said Officer Rickford Leitch with the Cocoa Police Department. “At that point, they observed the truck pull to the left appearing to indicate that he was going to pull over. They changed their focus to the pedestrian who was laying in the roadway. When they looked up, the truck was no longer there.”

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Police said the truck wasn’t carrying a trailer at the time of the crash.

Investigators believe the cab was red, brown and black and likely has front-end damage.

“It needs to be something done and these people driving too fast and not paying attention,” said Michael Forlenza.

Forlenza said he knew the victim, and he’s seen too many crashes at this intersection.

Last year, there were 17 crashes in this area. Cocoa police said there have now been two crashes this year, with one being deadly.

“He’s been here a long time,” Winscher said. “He’s a good man, I can tell you that. One of the nicest guys out here, I know that. He’d do anything for you.”

Police said they canvassed area businesses for any possible surveillance video of the vehicle in question.

Anyone who sees the tractor-trailer is asked to call Cocoa police at 321-639-7620 (option 4) or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477).

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Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.