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Tampa police make arrest in Saturday's fatal hit-and-run

TAMPA — Two days after police say someone hit a pedestrian and left him to die in the road, 30-year-old Jason Burnham was charged with the crime.

One of Burnham's co-workers pointed detectives to him after noticing that Burnham's damaged Ford Explorer matched a description of the suspect sport utility vehicle on the news.

While detectives were investigating the tip, Burnham of 37606 Tall Pines Drive in Zephyrhills contacted them and arranged a meeting.

After an interview, detectives arrested Burnham on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash with death and booked him into the Hillsborough County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $15,000 bail. Jail records say he is a painter.

The crash happened at almost 1 a.m. Saturday.

Aaron Keith Cordes, 57, was pushing a blue shopping cart across 50th Street and Broadway. He was in the crosswalk but walking against the traffic light.

An SUV that police now say was being driven by Burnham hit Cordes. Then it kept going.

Several witnesses rushed to try to help Cordes. Soon, Tampa police officers and firefighters arrived and started CPR before Cordes was taken to a hospital.

But the man's injuries were too severe, police said, and he was later pronounced dead.

Police released a description of the suspect SUV, including a detail that the vehicle would probably have blue paint from Cordes' shopping cart on its smashed front end.

According to detectives, Burnham's co-worker said Burnham told him that his SUV had been damaged when he hit a deer. But there was blue paint in the dent, the co-worker told detectives.

This is Burnham's ninth arrest in Florida. The previous charges included marijuana possession, fleeing from police and failing to appear in court, and he was charged in another hit-and-run in 2000, according to records from the state Department of Law Enforcement. He was ordered to serve more than two weeks on that charge, jail records show.

His driving record includes infractions for speeding, careless driving, displaying an improper tag, driving with a suspended license and failure to pay fines.

His license, which was suspended in 2009, had been reinstated six months ago.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Reach Kim Wilmath at or 813-226-3337.

Tampa police make arrest in Saturday's fatal hit-and-run 05/16/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 16, 2011 11:52pm]
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