Driver arrested in fatal Plant City hit-and-run fled to Connecticut, police say

Emmanuel Burgos Mercado stopped briefly after the hitting a pedestrian in Plant City, police say, but then he drove off without getting out to help.
Plant City police say Emmanuel Burgos Mercado, 36, of Dover, was driving this 2006 Hyundai Tucson on East Baker Street in Plant City on Jan. 17 when he fatally struck 57-year-old Arturo Martinez-Ramirez as the pedestrian tried to cross the street. [Plant City Police Department]
Plant City police say Emmanuel Burgos Mercado, 36, of Dover, was driving this 2006 Hyundai Tucson on East Baker Street in Plant City on Jan. 17 when he fatally struck 57-year-old Arturo Martinez-Ramirez as the pedestrian tried to cross the street. [Plant City Police Department]
Published February 12
Updated February 12

PLANT CITY — Police have arrested a driver suspected of striking a pedestrian last month and then driving off.

Emmanuel Burgos Mercado, 36, of Dover was arrested Monday in connection with the Jan. 17 death of 57-year-old Arturo Martinez-Ramirez, according to Plant City police.

Mercado was driving a 2006 Hyundai Tucson east on East Baker Street at about 6:30 p.m. near Charlie Taylor Road when Martinez-Ramirez tried to cross the street several hundred feet west of the intersection, according to an arrest report. The Tucson's front bumper struck Martinez-Ramirez, throwing him to the ground.

Mercado stopped briefly after the collision, then drove north on Charlie Taylor Road without getting out to help, the report said. It also revealed that a woman was sitting in the Hyundai's back seat with her 6-month old daughter.

Plant City police arrived at the crash scene after someone reported seeing a person lying in the road. Investigators identified the victim as Martinez-Ramirez, who lived in Plant City, after his girlfriend called police to report she hadn't seen or heard from him for more than 24 hours.

A day later, on Jan. 18, investigators found the Hyundai at the Shangri-La mobile home community, 2850 New Tampa Highway in Lakeland. Police later learned Mercado had fled Florida for Connecticut.

Mercado returned to Plant City, was interviewed by investigators and arrested. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on Monday on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, driving with a suspended license and evidence tampering. He was being held Tuesday in lieu of $19,000 bail.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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