On Dec. 18, police said Christopher Prater, 56, allegedly borrowed a vehicle without permission and then hit a postal truck driven by 69-year-old Paul Falica in Sulphur Springs, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
According to witnesses, a Mercedes was spotted driving away after Falica’s truck was overturned, officials said.
Authorities said Falica was pinned under his truck and died at the scene.
Acting on a tip, police found a damaged Mercedes in Prater’s driveway, which was a half-mile from the fatal hit-and-run, officials said.
When officers spoke with Prater at his home, he allegedly claimed his roommate was driving the car but was not in the area, police said.
Police, however, talked with the owner of the Mercedes who said he parked the car at the home a few days earlier. He said he gave the car keys to Prater in case he needed to move it but did not give him permission to drive it, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Investigators searched the Mercedes and reportedly found Prater’s fingerprints and a debit card with his name on it, officials said.
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Investigators obtained surveillance video that allegedly showed Prater entering and exiting the vehicle, which had bumper damage consistent with a collision, WTVT reported.
The Tampa Bay Times also reported that Prater’s son allegedly called police after he overheard his dad say on the phone that he hit someone and left the scene. The son watched the surveillance video and allegedly identified Prater as the person getting in and out of the Mercedes before and after the deadly crash, according to police.
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He was booked into jail and was being held without bond.
Prater has a lengthy criminal history that includes arrests for grand theft, aggravated assault and DUI. Records also showed that his driver’s license has been suspended 15 times, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
WTVT spoke with the witnesses who indicated the victim, Falica, had worked the mail route for more than 20 years and was set to retire in February.
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