Driver charged in hit-and-run death of elderly man in wheelchair

Authorities say 80-year-old was dragged 25 feet

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Minutes after after an 80-year-old man in a wheelchair was struck and killed crossing Edgewood Avenue on Wednesday evening, a driver was arrested for leaving the scene, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police said Emmit Eugene Roberts was in a motorized wheelchair on Edgewood near Trask Street about 6:45 p.m. when he was hit by a southbound vehicle. Police said Roberts was dragged about 25 feet after the impact.

Roberts was transported to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, where he died.

Investigators were told by witnesses that the driver, Steven Bradstreet, pulled over and got out to check his vehicle for damage. The eyewitnesses said the driver then jumped back in the vehicle and squealed his tires as he sped away.

Bradstreet, 23, was pulled over a short distance away by a patrol officer who heard the impact of the crash and saw witnesses chasing the suspect vehicle. Bradstreet (pictured right) was charged with fleeing the scene of an accident involving a death.

Police said Roberts was not in a crosswalk and that section of South Edgewood avenue is poorly lit.

Roberts lived in a retirement community at Florida Christian Apartments, and friends said he was well-known.

"We all think it's a tragedy," Roberts' neighbor, John Merritt, said of his death. "You hate to hear that happen to anyone you know."

Merritt said he knows it's hard for many of the elderly people who live at the complex to safely cross the road.

"I mean, if you're not watching what you're doing, especially at night, and you know, cars speed along here, too," Merritt said.

The concern for some residents is that the crosswalk is too quick. Channel 4's Elizabeth Cate said it took her about 25 seconds to get across walking at a brisk pace. In a wheelchair, it may be more difficult to do so in a timely manner.

"I think if they had a sign just before or just after this place or something like that, that you have a facility here that people don't always move fast," said Frank Safford, a friend of Roberts.

Aside from making the intersection less dangerous, Channel 4 safety expert Ken Jefferson believes it's important for people riding in powered scooters to take extra precaution, especially at night.

"What they need to do is make sure that the driver sees them, wave at them, make some noise, do something, get the attention of the driver so they can proceed across the street," Jefferson said.

Bradstreet has three previous driving citations, two for careless driving and one for speeding.

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