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Man charged in Tampa hit-and-run that injured University of Tampa student and friend

TAMPA — Tampa police detectives on Sunday arrested 27-year-old Andres Trujillo for involvement in a hit-and-run accident early Saturday that critically injured a University of Tampa student and his friend.

Trujillo hung his head and apologized as he left police headquarters on his way to the Orient Road Jail.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," said Trujillo, who turned himself in to authorities about 5 p.m. Sunday.

"I panicked," he said when asked why he left the scene of the accident.

Injuries caused by the impact have left Erik V. Nicoletti, 20, brain dead, authorities said. He is on life support at Tampa General Hospital. Cree Alisha Riley, 19, is in critical condition, also at TGH.

Nicoletti and Riley were walking just after 1 a.m. Saturday on the north sidewalk of Kennedy Boulevard near North Boulevard when a gray 1993 Chrysler New Yorker veered over the curb and onto the sidewalk, striking both victims at about 30 mph, Lt. Jack Diaz said.

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies later Saturday found the car abandoned in a ravine near the intersection of N Dale Mabry Highway and Lambright Avenue, police said.

Detectives tracked the vehicle registration and contacted members of Trujillo's family, who persuaded him to turn himself in.

"Especially the grandmother really convinced him to do what was right and turn himself in," Diaz said.

Trujillo told detectives that he dropped a cigarette and when he reached down to pick it up he felt the car hit something. He initially thought it was a small vehicle or motorcycle, and later learned he had hit two people, Diaz said.

"He says he was not drinking," Diaz said.

Trujillo works as a sous chef at Pizzaiolo Bavaro, a downtown Tampa restaurant, according to his arrest report.

He has been arrested multiple times since 2003 on charges including disorderly intoxication, aggravated battery, driving without a valid license and fraudulent use of a credit card, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Web site.

On Sunday, he was charged with hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injuries and violation of probation.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Man charged in Tampa hit-and-run that injured University of Tampa student and friend 11/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 22, 2009 10:32pm]

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