Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Police still searching for hit-and-run driver after 80-year-old's death

ST. PETERSBURG — Police were still searching Thursday for the driver who fled the scene of a fatal crash the night before.

Police said the accident, which killed an 80-year-old man, happened just after 9 p.m. at 15th Avenue S and 25th Street.

Anna Melendez, 62, was driving a Toyota Camry east on 15th Avenue. Her son, Daniel, 24 and husband, Thomas, 80 were passengers.

A silver Nissan Altima, which police said was an Avis rental car, was driving north on 25th Street and was speeding and swerving around other vehicles, police said. The Altima's driver ran a stop sign and struck the front right side of Melendez's Camry, flipping it onto the driver side. The car destroyed a light pole and came to rest on a chain link fence in front of a home at 2487 15th Ave. S.

The car burst into flames.

Thomas Melendez was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Altima fled. Anna and Daniel Melendez were also taken to Bayfront, and later released.

Some neighbors raised questions about whether police were pursuing the car immediately before the crash.

Police department spokesman Mike Puetz said two officers who arrived at the scene shortly after the accident were actually working a narcotics investigation a few blocks away. As they spoke with two men they saw come out of an abandoned house, they heard a crash and immediately drove to the scene.

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