JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - It took the Jacksonville Beach Police Department more than 15 hours to release the suspect vehicle description to the public in the hit-and-run crash that killed a 25-year-old man early Saturday morning.
That amount of time, according to friends of Daniel Stein, was precious time lost.
Stein was killed while crossing the street at 13th Avenue North and State Road A1A.
Sources told News4Jax the black Mercedes believed to have been involved in the crash has been recovered and is being processed for evidence by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Police have not confirmed that information.
Sgt. Thomas Crumley explained what the delay was.
"We wanted to make sure the information gathered from the scene -- we had conflicting statements as to what kind of vehicle we were looking for -- before we came to the public, we wanted to make sure we gave you guys the right information," Crumley said.
Crumley said his investigators erred on the side of caution, adding that the delay didn't hinder the investigation, which is "active."
Crumley said the department's resources were also stretched thin over the Fourth of July holiday, another reason why there was a delay in releasing information.
An arrest can't come soon enough for Stein's friends and family who came to Jacksonville Beach Monday morning in his honor. They said Stein had a passion for surfing, which is why they paddled out to sea and shared stories about his life.
"He obviously touched so many people's lives, and it's a tragedy that it happened," said Melissa Laffery, one of Stein's friends. "This is our way of coping, just family coming together."
"It's really a shame the way he was taken from us," friend Joshua West said. "That's why I'm here: to show my love for my friend."
"I love you, Dan," one friend said. "Ride that way forever, bro. See you soon."
Some of Stein's coworkers said they have missed work because of how upset they are over the loss of their friend. He used to work at Taco Lu and then was working at the Flying Iguana and everyone said he was a great friend, coworker and all-around awesome person.
"There are not words to describe how much he is missed," said Taco Lu manager Anne Callaway.
Callaway can't believe that Stein is gone. The two used to work together at Taco Lu in Jacksonville Beach and she said the community is crushed by his death.
"He was just such a fun, happy, positive guy who would do anything for anyone at the drop of a dime. He was just such a bright, vibrant spirit. Just a wonderful guy," said Callaway.
Callaway hopes police will soon identify the driver in the crash.
"That person probably wants to sleep at night. They just need to come clean and do the right thing. Everybody makes mistakes, but they need to pay for what happened and make it right," said Callaway.
Taco Lu owner Don Nicol said Stein's friends are a tight-knit group and that this is extremely difficult for them.
"Everybody was so close. It was such a tight little circle. So for Friday night to happen, you think, it's like a blink. Then everything changes for everybody," said Nicol.
Once the driver is identified, he or she will likely be prosecuted under the new hit-and-run law that went into effect July 1.
The law created a four-year minimum mandatory sentence for drivers who leave the scene of accidents involving death. It also requires the offender's driver's license revoked for three years.
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