LARGO — Authorities investigating a hit-and-run accident from late July said Monday that witnesses have told them the driver may have intentionally hit the victim, who was standing on a sidewalk.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 28-year-old Richard Lee Slate III was standing on the sidewalk on the southeast corner of Ridge Road and 117th Avenue N, just south of Walsingham Road in Largo, about 11 p.m. July 29.
A car, believed to be a Honda sedan, headed west on 117th, made a sharp turn onto Ridge and drove up onto the sidewalk.
The car hit Slate, who got trapped under the car and was dragged about 300 feet before he became dislodged when the car turned onto 116th Avenue N, the FHP said.
The car reversed and took off, leaving Slate lying in the road.
Slate was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where he remained in critical condition Monday — 10 days after the crash. FHP spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said investigators have not been able to interview Slate.
"The more it's been looked into, in reference to the actual physics of the crash as well as talking to some witnesses and some people who may have information on the case, they feel more likely than not it could've been intentional, and based upon the driver's actions as well," Gaskins said.
Witnesses reported the car was being driven recklessly and it appeared the car was purposely steered toward Slate, the FHP said.
Gaskins said the FHP is working with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on the investigation.
"In a case like this, we're going to try to use local resources, in this case the Sheriff's Office, to develop the leads to prosecute criminally," he said.
The car may be a silver, gray or charcoal Honda sedan, 1997 to 2002 model.
Slate has a lengthy history of arrests in Pinellas dating to 2001. In 2007, he was sentenced to about 21/2 years in prison after he violated his probation on a child abuse charge, according to Pinellas court records.
Gaskins said investigators are exploring several possibilities, including whether the assault stemmed from some previous criminal activity or a domestic situation, but have not yet determined the motive.
"We're still interviewing anyone connected to him," Gaskins said.
The FHP is asking that anyone with information call FHP Cpl. Larry Maynard at (813) 631-4020.