Person of interest in deadly Turnpike hit-and-run

Driver came forward Thursday to Florida Highway Patrol troopers

VERO BEACH, Fla. - A tractor-trailer driver thought to be responsible for a double fatal hit-and-run came forward Thursday and meet with the Florida Highway Patrol.

Robert Bates met with investigators in Vero Beach, said an FHP spokesman. At that meeting, which was set up through his attorney, Bates did not reveal any details about the crash.

He was not arrested, not charged, and was free to go after the interview with investigators. Late Thursday, WKMG-TV's Shaun Chaiyabhat found Bates as he returned to his home in Sanford.

Reporter: "You've hired an attorney?"
Bates: "Yes. I've already talked to the police. So I have nothing further to say."
Reporter: "Was there a reason why you hired an attorney as opposed to just talking to police immediately?"
Bates: "Sir, I have nothing to say."

The FHP identified 68-year-old Robert Bates as a person of interest in the crash which killed a deaf couple about 7:45 p.m. Monday.

Investigators say the tractor-trailer crashed into Vincent Mathews and Mariah King as they were changing a tire on the shoulder of the Turnpike near Fort Pierce, killing both of them.

Troopers said Bates, on the advice of his attorney, did not make a statement, but told them the location of the tractor-trailer in the Central Florida area. FHP said the big rig was recovered, but is not releasing the exact location.

Bates was not arrested, but troopers said this was an ongoing criminal investigation and charges are pending.

King, 19, of Davenport, and 24-year-old Mathews, of Lakeland, were former students at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

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