Polk County Law Enforcement has asked the public to help them find a driver who struck and killed a man on his bicycle and then left the scene of the crash. Eric Wayne Pope, 32, a resident of Lakeland, died when he was hit from behind while riding his bike north on the east edge of Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane, around 1:30 a.m. Friday morning.
According to press reports, the cyclist had a light on his bicycle; he was wearing a reflective vest, and was operating it safely by riding on the edge of the road. There doesn’t appear to be any reason why he would have been struck by a vehicle. Deputies say he was hit by an “unknown vehicle.” Witnesses in the area of the crash described the vehicle that hit Pope as being light or silver colored and possibly a Dodge truck.
In 2013, there were 78,000 hit and run crashes in Florida, according to Florida Highway Patrol. These collisions caused 154 deaths. It’s estimated one out of four drivers in Florida have no insurance. I hope this is not the case for this man. And, for the sake of his family, we hope the driver who hit and ran is found or comes forward.
As a cycling safety advocate, this is especially troubling when a person riding a bicycle is doing everything he should to be safe. It only takes a driver a few seconds of not paying attention to the road to endanger a cyclist.
If you have any information, please contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.