An arrest has been made in a hit-and-run that seriously injured a teenage jogger in Haines City, Florida.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced that traffic deputies took Mario Lopez-Morales into custody on Saturday, charging him with one count of leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury; one count of leaving the scene of a crash with property damage; and tampering with evidence. The accident happened last Tuesday.
An investigation revealed Lopez-Morales struck 17-year-old Adam Schumacher, who was jogging along a road in Haines City, deputies say.
According to the arrest affidavit, around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday, PCSO deputies responded to Crest Drive in Haines City, where Schumacher was found on the ground, seriously hurt. He was taken to Osceola Medical Center with skull and facial fractures and a sprained ankle.
Witnesses reported that Adam was running when he was struck by a dark-colored 1997-2004 model Ford F-150 pickup truck, which then drove through a front yard and smashed into a parked van before fleeing the scene.
Anonymous tips led deputies to a home in Haines City. A search of the property revealed a heavily damaged car, Lopez-Morales' black 1997 Ford F-150. which was "deliberately concealed from view by land or air behind two pieces of a wooden privacy fence, some carpet padding, and a metal sign," read the sheriff's office report.
Deputies obtained a search warrant for the truck and transported it to PCSO, where it was found to have "visible damage."
Pieces of the truck found left behind at the scene matched.
"The homeowner told deputies that a friend of his asked if he could park his brother Mario's truck there, and that Mario had 'hit a pole,' read the report, which added the suspect then flew to Las Vegas for a work meeting.
Deputies subsequently interviewed Lopez-Morales' wife, who told them she had spoken to the suspect on his cellphone while he was in Las Vegas when he admitted he'd struck a person with his car and that he was going to turn himself in.
When contacted by phone in Vegas, Lopez-Morales confirmed to deputies that he was driving around that night looking for his wife because the two had been arguing. He said he "was fumbling with his phone while driving, trying to call his wife, when he struck a person, then got scared and left the scene," according to the report.
Deputies met the 33-year-old at Orlando International Airport on Saturday, and he was booked into the Polk County Jail, where he remains on $13,000 bond.
"Every time we work a hit-and-run crash, we tell the community that we need their help — this is often the only way we solve crashes where suspects flee the scene," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "Thank you to the anonymous tipsters who led us to this suspect. We are grateful that Adam will make a full recovery, and that this suspect will be held accountable for hitting and leaving Adam for dead."