The death of an 84-year-old man found on the side of U.S. 41 is now being investigated as a possible hit-and-run, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
At about 10 a.m. Friday, paramedics and deputies were called out to the 5400 block of 14th Street West to a report of someone injured on the east ride of the roadway. Asuncion Ramirez was taken to Blake Medical Center where he died later that day.
The Florida Highway Patrol had also initially been called out to the scene but never responded because paramedics and deputies believed Ramirez had suffered a medical episode.
Investigators are perplexed by the case, however, and are now investigating it as a possible hit-and-run, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.
At the hospital, doctors thought Ramirez’s injuries were not the result of a medical episode. Then on Monday, the Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that the man’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a car, Bristow said.
“But witnesses didn’t see him be struck by a vehicle. They just saw him fall down,” Bristow said. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions.”
The man was believed to be on his way to Save-a-Lot and was near a Wendy’s when he collapsed on the side of the road. Detectives have checked surveillance video footage from the area and have been unable to find any evidence of Ramirez being hit by a vehicle.
But given the time of the morning Friday that it happened, if Ramirez was hit by a vehicle, the sheriff’s office believes somebody has to have seen something.
“That is probably the busiest road in Manatee County. It’s a mystery right now,” Bristow said. “We are looking for anyone who may have seen anything along that stretch of U.S. 41.”
There was no evidence at the scene of a hit-and-run, but a medical examiner does not believe Ramirez would have been able to walk after sustaining the injuries he did.