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FHP: Delayed response times impacting hit-and-run investigations

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Updated: 11/18/2013 8:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is reporting an increased number of deadly hit-and-run crashes this year, and Action News has learned that delayed response times are part of the problem.

Billanna Holley was recently taken off life support following what passengers called a frightening crash. Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday, and her 1-year-old daughter will be in attendance.

The car Holley and her friends were riding in flipped on Interstate 295 earlier this month.

Investigators say the driver responsible for causing the deadly crash is still out there.

The Florida Highway Patrol states deadly hit-and-run crashes are a troubling trend on the rise.

"With hit-and-run crashes, time is of the essence with evidence," said Sgt. Dylan Bryan, with the Florida Highway Patrol.

Bryan says there's a delay in the time it takes investigators to get to a crash site in the crucial moments after impact.

Bryan cites an increase in workload for FHP patrols across Troop G, which covers northeast Florida.

The increased workload has put a strain on the agency, causing longer response times.

"A lot of people are getting impatient and don't want to wait a long time, wait around for an officer to get there, just leave the scene," said Bryan.

When a driver leaves the scene of a crash, the incident is classified as a hit-and-run.

According to data Action News obtained from FHP, with more than 3,400 incidents already this year, hit-and-run cases are on the rise in northeast Florida.

It used to take about 30 minutes for FHP to arrive on the scene. Now, the wait has more than doubled. Wait times now average between one and two hours.

Those added minutes could mean the difference between finding the driver responsible for tragic hit-and-run crashes and not.

"We want to have manpower available to these types of situations to be able to get personnel there on-scene and process the scene immediately," said Bryan.

It's not just northeast Florida -- the entire state is dealing with an increase in deadly hit-and-run crashes. According to FHP, 3 out of every 5 traffic fatalities in 2012 were pedestrians struck in hit-and-run crashes.

Leaving the scene of a crash resulting in injuries carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; up to 30 years if it results in a death.

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