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Lawmakers look to increase punishments for hit and runs

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Updated: 2/22 11:44 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Detectives are working hard to identify the hit and run driver responsible for killing a popular St. Augustine DJ.

On Saturday, an anonymous tip led them to the silver Mazda that knocked a telephone pole across US 1 early Friday morning, and then took off. Moments later, 34-year-old Juan Salazar hit the pole, and was thrown 40 feet from his scooter. He was then run over by a truck, and that driver took off as well.

Salazar's friends and family say they now realize how devastating hit and run's can be.

“You see one, after the other, after the other,” says Salazar’s friend Nicole Ortiz. “It's just not fair for someone to do something so dumb and not actually be like, ok, yeah, I messed up. I made a mistake.”

This week, Action News told you about the efforts state lawmakers are taking to strengthen the punishments that hit and run drivers face. On Saturday, we spoke to District 15 Representative Daniel Davis about an incentive drunk drivers have under the current law, to leave the scene and sober up before coming forward.

“Sometimes you just have loopholes or gaps in the law and we're working this session to bridge those gaps to make sure that people can't leave the scene of a crime, and because of minimum mandatory’s, receive a lower sentence than they would if they had stayed.”

St. Augustine Police Officer Chris Miller supports the effort, but says he's confident that the hit and run driver who caused Salazar's death will be held accountable no matter what.

“The laws on the books are pretty good, but could the laws be better, strengthened? Absolutely. There's an obligation to stay on scene. It's the law.”

But Salazar's family is wondering if the punishment will fit the crime.

“It's a lot worse when they just run, they leave,” says Ortiz. “It's not fair!”
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coliebug 85 - 2/22/2014 11:24 PM
1 Vote
To the family of this gentleman I'm so sorry for the loss.He didn't deserve to go to heaven like this.I hope that the people involved in this accident gets punished for what they have done.It's just disgusting how both vehicles left the scene and for one to come back and leave again.I'm sure the family will get justice for what has happened to the popular dj.I pray for each and every one of that's having to deal with the pain and loss of a loved one.To his remember you have him with you at times and I'm YOU look like him.And also his in peace now and in HEAVEN looking down on all his family members and friends.God Bless Y'ALL;)Always look up because his up there smiling down and saying I'm alright now don't worry I'm keeping my eyes on all of y'all.
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