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SUV driver arrested after Tampa hit-and-run death

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:50 PM
TAMPA -

The driver of an SUV faces charges related to the death of a bicyclist who was struck by a vehicle Monday night, police said.

Humberto Saez, 43, of 5911 N. Eustace Ave., Tampa, was riding a motorized bicycle east in the 3100 block of West Hillsborough Avenue at 7:36 p.m. Monday when he was struck, police said.

A witness told police the vehicle that struck Saez and fled was a 2006, white Chevrolet SUV. The witness also gave police the Florida tag number of the truck, which led officers to the suspect's home, police said.

Authorities were there when he arrived at 12:30 a.m., and he was charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

Police did not release the name of the person taken into custody Tuesday morning.

There was damage to the front of the SUV consistent with striking a bicyclist, police said.

It also appeared the SUV was likely washed sometime after 8:30 p.m. Monday and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said. Tampa police are asking owners of self-service car washes within several miles of Columbus Drive and North Boulevard to check surveillance videos for a male washing the front of a white Trailblazer.

Saez was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with a serious head injury and died Monday morning, police said.

In 2009-10, there was a rash of traffic fatalities involving bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area.

Ten bicyclists died in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in 2010. The number of fatalities spiked in 2009, when 12 bicyclists died in Pinellas and six died in Hillsborough.

The crashes prompted the Florida Department of Transportation to launch an awareness campaign last year called "See the Blind Spots," which urged motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to be more cautious on roads and intersections.

Florida averages more than 120 fatal bicycle crashes a year, double than the national average, according to FDOT. About 60 percent of those fatal wrecks occur at night or before daybreak, when visibility is low, state transportation officials said.

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