Unsolved hit-and-runs all too familiar in St. Johns County

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:46:04 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 18 2013 08:12:05 PM EST

We're now hearing the emotional calls for help, made in the moments after a 15-year-old St. Augustine girl was hit by a car which left the scene. The teen later died.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -

Unsolved hit-and-runs involving pedestrians and bicyclists have happened far too often in St. Johns County in recent years.

Bicyclist Bryan Wrigley was struck and killed in 2011 on County Road 214, and bicyclist Christian Schroom was run over and killed last year on State Road A1A on Anastasia Island near the lighthouse.

Scott Pierce was hit while crossing State Road 13 in Fruit Cove in September but survived. And earlier this month, bicyclist Randy Miller was hit and killed on Four Mile Road.

The latest happened Saturday night, when 15-year-old Haley Smith was hit by a truck on Kenton Morrison Road and died. The driver kept going.

"It just made me sick. It's just so heartbreaking," said Mandy Wrigley, whose son Bryan Wrigley (pictured below) was struck and killed while riding his bike in 2011. "This is a life they just took and a family they just destroyed."

Bryan's death destroyed his mother's life two and a half years ago. No one has been arrested.

"Something needs to be done," Wrigley said. "I don't have all the answers. I wish I did. But it's just sickening."

City leaders are lobbying to make walking and bicycling safer in St. Johns County because it can be a great way to get around town.

"It's positive for the economy, it's positive for the environment, it's great for your health," said Heather Neville, who heads up Velo Fest, which has turned into an initiative to educate the community and spread awareness about bicycle safety.

Neville said better infrastructure in place is ideal, but obviously costly. So even more signs cautioning drivers of pedestrians and cyclists would help.

She's working with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office on an upcoming public service announcement.

"Our biggest mission right now is to really change the way people treat each other on the road, and that's to realize that there's a person on that bike, a person behind the wheel, and to acknowledge that and treat each other accordingly," Neville said.

"We're pushing out some videos on our website, our Facebook page to educate folks and try to bring more awareness to this issue," said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan, of the Sheriff's Office. "But it's up to the bicyclist, it's up to the pedestrians to be safe, and it's also up to the cars to keep an eye out."

St. Augustine Vice-Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline is also in on the action with a bicycle safety awareness study.

"It's going to identify areas of trouble, trouble spots, and then we'll go in with an awareness campaign to highlight those areas and solve those problems of those areas," she said.

Leaders hope these initiatives will help people who want to walk or ride around beautiful St. Augustine do so safely.

"It does start with awareness, and it does start with us understanding that we have to share the road," Sikes-Kline said.

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