Members of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) K-9 unit helped Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) catch up with a Tampa man who fled on foot after the pick-up truck he was driving failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway causing the death of his front seat passenger.
FHP Spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said that just before 7 p.m. on Oct. 18, a Ford F150 pickup truck driven by 38-year-old Reinier Casola Rodriguez of Tampa was speeding north on Mariner Boulevard south of Quality Drive when it failed to negotiate a curve in the road and entered the center median where its unrestrained front seat passenger fell out of the vehicle.
The pickup continued to travel to the west shoulder of the roadway, where it collided with a utility box.
Casola Rodriguez fled the scene on foot until he was caught by HCSO deputies and a tracking K-9 about one mile from the crash.
The 34-year-old West Palm Beach man who fell out of the vehicle was taken to an area hospital, where he later died from the injuries he sustained in the incident.
Two other male passengers, ages 29 and 47, respectively, sustained minor injuries in the crash and were not transported from the scene for treatment.
Casola Rodriguez was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his minor injuries.
After he was determined to be impaired, FHP Troopers arrested him and charged him with driving under the influence (DUI), leaving the scene of a crash involving death and driving on a suspended license involving a death.
He was also charged with felony battery for striking a nurse who was attempting to provide medical care to him.
Casola Rodriguez, who refused to provide a breath test or blood sample, was later booked into the Hernando County Jail.