The teenage driver who fled after hitting a man crossing U.S. 301 in a wheelchair turned himself in Thursday, then posted $20,120 bond and left Sarasota County jail.
The 48-year-old victim, Michael Wright, died from his injuries Wednesday morning, according to the Sarasota Police Department.
“I am sorry,” 19-year-old Malik Clyburn said as he walked away from the jail flanked by the media. Clyburn, of Sarasota, turned himself in to police at 12:30 a.m. Thursday after hitting Wright, who had been crossing U.S. 301 near 17th Street on Tuesday night in his wheelchair, according to police.
Clyburn was charged with a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. The case has been turned over to the State Attorney’s Office.
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According to Sarasota police Officer Kevin Schafer, who has been conducting the crash investigation, Clyburn told him everything that happened. During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Schafer said he understood from Clyburn he was related to Wright, but he couldn’t specify how.
“Nice young man,” Schafer said of Clyburn. “I gotta tell you right now, he’s a nice young man — very remorseful.”
According to Schafer, Clyburn said he had just gotten snacks from a convenience store before the crash and was heading to watch a basketball game with some friends.
“His light turned yellow, which we saw in the video,” said Schafer, an officer with the Traffic Homicide Division. “He did not run the red light. He didn’t commit any traffic infractions. So his driving, as far as that goes, was fine.”
Schafer said there’s no doubt Wright was crossing when he shouldn’t have been.
“But once he (Clyburn) left the scene, that changes the whole scope of the crash investigation,” the officer said. “Now we’re talking about a serious felony.”
He said he didn’t believe Clyburn was speeding at the time of the crash and didn’t have time to notice Wright on the crosswalk.
“He said all of a sudden he saw him there, he hit him and he tried to veer, according to him, and he said he got scared,” the officer said.
Wright’s listed address is a health care facility in Sarasota. According to Schafer, Wright’s sister was his caretaker.
Schafer said the victim’s family also said Clyburn is a “great kid.”
Clyburn’s vehicle — a gray, four-door 2012 Kia Optima — was brought to the police department tow yard to be examined. Collected pieces of the vehicle were placed back in the car where they belonged, according to the officer. Pieces of the car lights and the bottom of the grill fit back like a glove, Schafer said.
“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the car that was involved in the crash,” he said.
According to Schafer, the red-light camera video released of the crash got to Clyburn.
“He couldn’t live with himself after he saw that video,” the officer said.
Schafer said Clyburn turning himself in tells the officer a lot about his character.
“He went to high school in the area. He grew up in the area,” he said. “So talking to him, very well-rounded kid ... like a lot of us, I feel bad that it actually happened. But then again, I have to do my job and investigate it and charge him with what he needs to be charged with and we’ll just let the judicial system play out from there.”