Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies searching for a suspect in a hit-and-run wreck in Brandon late Saturday night found the man hiding in thick brush and vines along the shore of a retention pond. The suspect dove underwater and swam to the center, but surrendered as deputies ringed the pond, deputies said.
Donald A. Ward, 38, 4736 School Road, Land O' Lakes, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury in the 11:28 p.m. incident on the Brandon Parkway, deputies said.
The victim was taken to Tampa General hospital where she was admitted in critical condition, deputies said.
Anne Marie Fanning, 23, of Valrico, was driving about 40 mph east on the parkway in a 2003 Mazda when her car was broadsided by a 2007 GMC Envoy driven by Ward, deputies said. Ward, a self-employed computer programmer, had run a stop sign, crossed the westbound lanes and hit the Mazda's driver's side door.
The Mazda caught fire and deputies used six fire extinguishers to keep the fire from spreading to the cab of the car until firefighters arrived and pulled Fanning from the wreckage.
Ward had run south from the scene, deputies said. A tracking dog was brought in and tracked Ward to a retention pond that was surrounded by thick bush, but then lost the trail, deputies said.
That's when a heat-seeking camera from a hovering helicopter found him hiding under thick brush and vines. The pilot directed deputies to Ward's location, but as deputies approached, Ward jumped into the water, but not before the tracking dog bit his hand.
The suspect swam underwater to the middle of the pond, but surrendered when he surfaced.
He was treated at the scene for minor bite injuries to his hand.
Deputies said other charges are pending.
Ward was released from the Hillsborough Coumnty jail later Sunday morning after posting $2,000 bail, records show.