DAVIE (CBS4) – Jennifer Klein could not hold back the tears as she talked about her sister-in-law Cristina Pokrajak who was killed in a hit-in-run accident on I-95 four years ago.
“They had so many plans between her and my brother. And those dreams were shattered. And my entire family has never been the same.” said Klein.
Pokrajak, a mother of a six-year-old, was on her way home from a concert. She pulled over to make a phone call. About a minute later a driver in the Express lanes cut across a cone barrier, four lanes of traffic, and hit her. She died. The driver kept going. Now her six-year-old is 10, growing up without a mother.
Sadly she isn’t alone.
Across the state of Florida on Monday families who have lost loved ones to hit and run drivers spoke out about their pain and anger. It is all part of a campaign by the Florida Highway Patrol to stop the heartache.
“When I turn on the news I cringe when I hear about another hit and run because even though people say they know how you feel, you really don’t know. When you lose a child there are no words that you can really say to someone to ease their pain.” said Kevin Riddick.
The driver who hit Riddick’s son three years ago on a rural road in Gainesville didn’t even hit his brakes. Police only know they are looking for a white truck.
Jennifer Richards held a photo of her 23-year old daughter, who was killed on the side of I-75.
“How would you feel? How would you react? Would you want justice? Or would you want that person to walk around as if nothing happened,” Richards asked.
A warrant is out for the arrest of Rafael Torres in connection with Richards daughter’s death but he’s long gone.
“It’s like he just vanished. They can’t find him,” Richards explained.
The statistics for hit and run crashes are startling.
In 2012 there were 67,968 hit and run accidents in the entire state; of those, 166 were deadly.
South Florida leads the way when it comes to hit and run crashes. Last year both counties combined for more than 20,000. It averages out to 56 a day.
There are a variety of reasons why people run.
In Klein’s case the list was long.
“He was drunk, the car did not belong to him, the tag did not belong to the car, he didn’t have insurance.” she said.
Sadly FHP believes more than half of hit and runs are never solved.
“I would venture to say possibly yes. Because if you don’t have any information to go on, it makes it very difficult,” said FHP Sergeant Mark Wysocky.
Most people are running from just a simple traffic ticket. Driving off though changes everything.
If you hurt or kill someone that ticket becomes a felony crime punishable up to 30 years in prison.