HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Highway Patrol arrested a man Wednesday in connection with a hit-and-run crash on U.S. 301 early Tuesday morning.
- Crash occurred around 4:30 a.m. just north of Sligh Avenue
- Victim had just moved to Tampa from Illinois
- More Hillsborough County stories
Officials said Steven Baker, 61, contacted the Florida Highway Patrol and said he'd struck "something" at the time and place of the reported hit-and-run crash that took the life of 28-year-old Jacob Weinert on Nov. 12.
The accident happened about 4:30 a.m. just north of Sligh Avenue.
Authorities said Weinert, was riding his bike southbound when a person driving a pick-up truck hit him from behind.
Baker told the Highway Patrol he was on his way to work at the time and was not aware of what he'd hit.
We spoke to Baker's son at their home, who told us his father was "heartbroken" over what had happened. He went on to say his father thought it might have been a piece of tire in the road he'd hit, so he just continued on his way.
When troopers came to Baker's home to investigate Wednesday, they found Baker and his white pickup truck with damage to the front end. They also found Baker had spray-painted the vehicle.
Baker's son told us when his father discovered damage to the truck's front end in the daylight, he feared it would rust, so he applied the spray paint.
Baker was arrested without incident and transported to the Orient Road jail. He's been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal traffic crash and destruction of evidence.
"He really didn't deserve that."
Weinert's family said he recently moved to Tampa from Illinois.
They said he was working as a forklift operator, trying to save up enough money to relocate his fiancé and two young children to Florida, as well.
"His life was just beginning," said Kathleen Weinert, his mother. "He had worked very hard to get here."
The family said they're frustrated that the driver didn't stop.
"We're really angry about it. It's just not fair. He really didn't deserve that. He would never have done that to anybody. He had a really strong moral compass," said his sister, Jennifer Gustafson.
FHP released surveillance video taken near the scene. The only description they've given is that it appears to be a white truck.
They also released a picture of the bike that shows it equipped with reflectors on the pedals and at least one of the wheels.
Weinert's family said they'll remember him as funny, outgoing and a proud dad.
Gustafson started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help support her brother's family. To learn more or to make a donation, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/363e3-supporting-jacob-weinert039s-family.
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