Saturday, June 15, 2024

Man arrested following Clearwater fatal hit and run crash

Clearwater Police and Clearwater Fire & Rescue responded to a traffic crash on Monday, May 13, 2024 around 2:45 p.m. near Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Hampton Road.

The crash involved 80-year-old Ernest Coluzzi on a motorized scooter and a pickup truck.

The pickup driver, later identified as 37-year-old Kris Paterson of New Port Richey, fled the scene, and the scooter rider, was flown to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa with life-threatening injuries.

Coluzzi, died Wednesday afternoon at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Vehicle believed to have been involved in hit and run crash in Clearwater

At approximately 9 p.m., the day of the crash, Clearwater Police announced that the vehicle and driver have been identified. The scooter rider remained in critical condition.

Paterson was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury. He was booked in to the Pinellas County Jail late Monday. 

It is expected that the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office will file upgraded charges against the suspect in the case given the death of Coluzzi.

Paterson was driving a 2021 Dodge Ram pickup that struck an 80-year-old man riding a mobility scooter at the intersection of Gulf-to Bay Boulevard and Hampton Road.

Paterson was making a right turn from a business parking lot to go east on Gulf-to-Bay when the crash occurred. 

Instead of calling 911 or stopping to render aid, Paterson fled east at a high rate of speed, stopping a half-mile down the road on Bayview Avenue to get the scooter unstuck from under his vehicle. He told officers he was aware he had run something over but was not aware it was a person. He also said he was running late for his job. 

Multiple witnesses supplied video or photos that aided officers in the investigation. 

“We’d like to thank the members of the community for the way they banded together after witnessing this crash,” said Police Chief Eric Gandy. “They did  what this driver failed to do – call police and try to help.”

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