Monday, December 18, 2017
Public safety

Five vehicles strike pedestrian in fatal Brandon crash

BRANDON — Ricky Polk was driving through Brandon to his job at a chemical plant early Friday morning when he saw two women on the side of the road, jumping up and down and crying.

Then he felt his car hit something and saw a figure in the rear-view mirror.

"And I said to myself, 'That felt like a body,' " Polk said.

Polk got out of his car and tried to wave the drivers on E Bloomingdale Avenue away from the man. Another driver ran over him before stopping as well. Two more drivers hit the victim, but kept going.

"That's what got me. How can you hit somebody and drag them under your vehicle and keep going?" said Polk, 56, a Temple Terrace resident who is also a pastor at Greater Mount Carmel AME Church in Tampa.

Ronald J. Sandalic died after being hit by a car and run over by four other drivers while lying in the road.

Sandalic, a 57-year-old homeless man, was wearing dark clothing as he tried to walk south across Bloomingdale Avenue about 4:30 a.m. near Maze Lane, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Madison A. Dvorak, 19, who was headed east in a 2005 Ford Focus, ran into him, throwing Sandalic 70 feet to a spot in the middle of the road.

As Dvorak of Dover stopped and phoned 911, Polk approached in 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup and struck Sandalic, deputies said. Polk stopped, got out and tried to wave drivers away from the injured man.

Sandalic got hit a third time by a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria, deputies said. The driver, John Gallagher, 57, of Valrico stopped and waited for deputies.

Saldalic was then struck by two pickup truck drivers who sped away without stopping, deputies said. The accident prompted deputies to detour traffic in the area for several hours.

Pedestrian fatalities involving that many vehicles are uncommon, but do happen on roadways that are busy or have dark spots, sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

"We have it up on a lot of the busier highways like U.S. 41 and U.S. 301," he said.

Because Sandalic was already dead when the last two trucks hit him, the drivers likely would not face charges, sheriff's officials said. Still, detectives are trying to track them down.

Polk said he is still struggling with the fact that one driver didn't stop for him as he was waving them away, and two others kept going after hitting another human being.

"Compassion should've stepped in some kind of way," Polk said.

Anyone with information about the two truck drivers can call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.

Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.

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