A box truck driver suspected of killing a woman in a hit-and-run crash in Florida earlier this week appeared before a judge on Wednesday.
The woman, 57-year-old Virginia Celli-Olivo was allegedly struck by 30-year-old box truck driver Miguel Valero Gonzalez on Tuesday, April 5th in Orange County, Florida.
According to Fox 35 Orlando, Celli-Olivo and a passenger were traveling along Curry Ford Road near Sanctuary Point Blvd when they noticed a turtle trying to cross the road. Celli-Olivo then stopped her car in the roadway, turned on her flashers, and exited the vehicle to try and assist the turtle. Celli-Olivo and her SUV were then struck by Gonzalez in his box truck. Gonzalez did not stop after striking the woman and tried to flee the scene, but he was followed by a witness who stayed with the truck until law enforcement arrived.
Officers found the box truck and witness at a gas station near Narcoossee Road and State Road 528. Gonzalez admitted to being the driver that struck Celli-Olivo and said that he had left the scene. He also admitted to having smoked marijuana earlier in the day, and was found to have a suspended license. Troopers did take a blood sample for analysis, but no impairment charges are currently pending.
“The reason they were stopped in the roadway as they were traveling westbound on Curry Ford, they noticed a turtle that was in the roadway,” Lt. Kim Montes with FHP said to WESH 2 News.
“A lot of people are animal lovers. They want to help, that’s their first instinct, but we want people to know it’s dangerous to put yourself at risk, to put others in your car at risk, to stop for an animal in the roadway,” Montes continued. “It has been determined over time that eyes of drivers scan the roadway for the largest thing, going to look past smaller things and see the larger things and people may not see you.”
The passenger in the car was transported to a nearby hospital, but was soon released with only bumps and bruises.
Gonzalez is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash involving death. His bond is set at $18,000 and he has been ordered not to contact the victim’s family. Celli-Olivo’s husband says he has hired an attorney.
“We have a lot of people [witnesses] who got involved and this family can get justice,” added Montes.