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Driver in fatal hit-and-run turns himself in

A St. Petersburg man surrenders to police after a hit-and-run accident in which an 81-year-old woman died.

A 45-year-old St. Petersburg man driving with a suspended license surrendered to police Monday and was charged in the hit-and-run death of an elderly woman.

Rickey E. Lett was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, driving with a suspended license and with no proof of insurance, Pinellas Park police said.

Authorities say Rickey E. Lett hit 81-year-old Dorothy Hackett Jones on 70th Avenue on Friday and did not stop.

He turned himself into police Monday morning.

"He really feels bad about it. It's not like he meant to hit the lady," said Lett's sister, 37-year-old Trina Lett.

Lett of 6135 30th Ave. N is being held in the Pinellas County jail in lieu of $10,500 bail.

At the time of the accident, Lett's driver's license was suspended for not paying two traffic citations in 1993 and 1995, Pinellas Park police said.

Lett, a maintenance worker for Clear Channel Systems, also has a suspended driver's license from North Carolina.

Mrs. Jones, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer's, was a resident at an assisted-living home along 70th Avenue N., a four-lane road that runs parallel to Park Boulevard.

Authorities say she was hit about 8:35 p.m. in the front of the home by Lett's 1980 Ford F150. Mrs. Jones died of internal injuries at Northside Hospital and Heart Institute a half-hour after the crash.

Lett's family members say Lett did not tell them about the accident after it happened.

"I think mainly he got scared, and driving under a suspended license had a lot to do with it," said his sister.

She said Lett told her Mrs. Jones stepped in front of his truck and he slammed on his brakes.

"He said it was like she ran out in front of him," Ms. Lett said.

Mrs. Jones' family members said the arrest brings some relief, but they have not been told how the accident happened and can't understand why Lett wouldn't stop to help.

"I really think that many people just feel like they can do things and get away with it," said Jones' daughter, Tracie Newhouse, 44, of Tampa.

She and her husband also are angry and wonder how someone with suspended licenses in two states can get away with driving.

"He shouldn't have been driving at all," said Jones' son-in-law, Steven Newhouse. "This is a guy driving around with a weapon."