The Florida Highway Patrol said it is searching for a driver whom investigators said hit and killed a man on a bicycle and then took off running, leaving the man to die.
The hit-and-run crash happened around 5:40 a.m. on U.S. Highway 192, east of State Road 417, in front of The Rock Church.
Troopers said Reyes Quinto, 51, was riding in the bicycle lane, with a four-door, 2006 Mazda slammed into the bicyclist, hit a pole and then struck another car. The driver then got out of his vehicle and ran from the scene.
"The fact that he got out and ran on foot, he absolutely knew he hit a person," said FHP Sgt. Kim Montes.
Quinto's family said he rode his bike down U.S. 192 every day to get to his job at the Gaylord Palms Resort, about 2 miles from the crash scene. They said he was earning money to send to his family in Mexico.
Family members could barely contain their emotions Tuesday when they talked about Quinto.
"He was just a humble guy who never did any harm to anybody," said Christian Lopez, Quinto's nephew.
Troopers said Quinto was hit from behind, and the car, with the bicyclist still on the hood, ran into a light pole, knocking it over and throwing Quinto to the ground. The car then hit another vehicle before the driver stopped and took off running.
Quinto's family members said they were often concerned about him riding his bike more than 3 miles on the busy Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway from home to work and back.
"We have a big family. We would offer him a ride to work, and people at work would offer him a ride back, but he would say no," Lopez explained. "His bicycle was all he needed. Even if it was raining or thunder, he would always ride his bicycle, because that was his bicycle."
FHP investigators said they already have an idea of who the suspect is.
"We are looking into the possibility that the person driving may be a relative of the owner [of the car]," Montes said.
Meanwhile, family and friends grieving the loss of their loved one have a message for the man who hit and killed him:
"For that guy that caused the accident that ran over Reyes Quinto, mercy for you," Lopez said.
Troopers said if the suspect is found, he faces a minimum of four years behind bars if convicted.