Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater police nab driver accused of hitting bicyclist

CLEARWATER — Police arrested a 33-year-old man who investigators said hit a bicyclist and then drove away Tuesday night.

Benito Espanol-Cruz of Largo faces a charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, according to Pinellas County Jail records. The cyclist he hit, 34-year-old Joseph Samson, is in a coma at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with a broken leg and pelvis, his mother, Sandra Samson, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Police said Samson was biking south across Cleveland Street about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday when Espanol-Cruz, heading east in a pickup truck, struck him near Fredrica Avenue.

Investigators used surveillance video and witnesses to identify Espanol-Cruz, police said. His 1999 Ford F-150 was found at his place of work in Largo, hidden behind several other work vehicles.

Officers booked Espanol-Cruz into jail about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. He was released later that morning on $5,000 bail.

Times staff

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