On February 13, Paula Vinsky, a special-needs teacher in Belle Glade, was hit from behind by a Jeep while she walking south on Calamondin Boulevard. The driver left the scene. Ms. Vinsky was left by the road. She died from her injuries.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents like the one that killed Ms. Vinsky are happening far too often. According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), hit-and-run accidents are increasing in Palm Beach County and across Florida. Last year, Palm Beach County had 3,381 hit-and-run crashes. This a slight increase from 3,372 in 2011.
Statewide, there were 69,994 hit-and-run crashes in 2012. Most of these were in Miami-Dade County (12,813) and Broward County (7,857). Florida hit-and-run accidents resulted in 162 deaths; 108 of the fatalities were pedestrians.
In response to the increase in hit-and-run crashes and hit-and-run accident deaths, the FHP is launching a campaign to educate drivers about their responsibilities after a West Palm Beach car accident and about the consequences they face if they are caught leaving an accident scene.
Florida law requires drivers who are involved in an accident to stop, provide aid to any injured persons, exchange information, and stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives. A driver who leaves the scene of a Florida car crash faces 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. If a person is injured, the penalty is increased to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. If the accident causes a fatality, a hit-and-run driver faces a 30-year prison term and/or fine of up to $10,000. Despite the harsh penalties, drivers leave the scene because they are drunk, lack insurance, are driving on a revoked license, are in the U.S. illegally, or are scared.
Ms. Vinsky's killer has not been caught. Unfortunately, this is all too true in hit-and-run accidents. With no arrest, victim's families are left grieving and waiting for closure.