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Police: 72-year-old man injured in hit-and-run, driver sought

Mathew Griffis says it was 'cowardly' for driver to leave him lying in street

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Police are searching for the driver who hit and injured a 72-year-old man then took off, the Orange Park Police Department announced Tuesday.

The hit-and-run crash happened June 9 on Eldridge Avenue. 

According to police, the driver was described as a 6-foot tall man in his 30s with a short beard and short hair. He was reportedly wearing a royal blue polo shirt and baseball cap. Police said he was driving a silver, newer model sedan -- possibly a Buick Lacrosse or Chevy Malibu -- that may have front-end damage.

The 72-year-old victim, Mathew Griffis, told News4Jax on Tuesday that he was a business man for many years and just moved to the area a couple weeks ago. He said he was leaving his assisted living facility to go to the gas station across the street when he was hit by a car and left to fend for himself. 

"I said, 'Sheri, they're taking me to the hospital.' I said, 'A car bumped into me and I got some scrapes and bruises.' So I didn't tell her the extent then. They proceeded to carry me to the hospital," Griffis said, recounting the call he made to the eldest of his five daughters after he was hit by the car. 

Griffis was using his walker to get to the convenience store when he was hit by the silver car, which can be seen in a grainy surveillance image released by police. 

"I'm on the ground and he (the driver) comes out of his car to where I'm lying, and looks down at me and says, 'Man, you didn't see me?'" Griffis said. "And I say, 'Oh my God, man. You didn't see me?'"

Griffis said the driver then went inside the store before taking off. But, fortunately, passersby and paramedics came to his aid. He now has injuries to both knees, a fractured foot, severe skin tears on both his left arm and left leg, and a large hematoma on his left leg and ankle.

"Every move, every step, everything -- I'm in pain because of this. Not for anything I did, but because of his actions," Griffis said. "He may have had his personal reasons for leaving, but it was cowardly of him to do that -- just leave me there in the street and eventually just drive off." 

Griffis also had to get a brand-new walker after his old one was completely crushed in the crash. 

Anyone who recognized the man or silver car captured on surveillance is asked to call Sgt. A. Nelson with the Police Department at 904-264-5555 or email anelson@townop.com