MANATEE — The stretch of road where Adolfo Lopez-Llanos died early Sunday is so dark at night that one Parrish store owner calls it “nothingness.”
“It is nothingness, nothing there, total blackness,” Kyung Yun, owner of The Parrish Grocery, said of the rural stretch of U.S. Highway 301 from north of Dickey Road to Wimauma.
That’s the stretch just south of the Hillsborough County line where 32-year-old Lopez-Llanos, of Wimauma, was struck and killed by a vehicle at 4:10 a.m. in an apparent hit-and-run, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Lopez-Llanos was walking north in the northbound lane of U.S. 301 just north of Dickey Road when he was struck by a vehicle. Lopez-Llanos was found on his stomach in the northbound lane, the report states.
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Lopez-Llanos was struck so hard that his body flew about 100 feet, leaving his boots on the road, Bay News 9 reported.
Bits of the vehicle that apparently struck Lopez-Llanos were spread over the accident scene and were gathered for evidence in what may be a felony investigation, officials said.
The vehicle that struck Lopez-Llanos left the scene in an unknown direction, the report said.
The report says the vehicle that hit Lopez-Llanos could be a 1989 to 1990 Ford Bronco II, a 1989 to 1992 Ford Ranger or a 1991 to 1994 Ford Explorer. The vehicle should have damage to the front and right front area, the report adds. The vehicle’s color is unknown at this time.
Yun driving to work from his home in Riverview at 5 a.m. Sunday when he saw bright lights, which he says are unusual on a stretch of road as dark as ink.
“There was maybe six or seven police cars with flashing lights,” he said.
“I knew something happened.”
Yun said he didn’t know Lopez-Llanos, but he thinks some of his customers, many of them of Mexican heritage, might know him.
“My first question is, ‘Why is he walking on that dark road?’ ” Yun asked Sunday night. “I don’t know. It’s 10 miles to Wimauma.”
Juan and Maria Garcia, owners of La Placita grocery across the street from The Parrish Grocery in downtown Parrish, say they saw a suspicious green four-door American-make sedan with some damage on it parked in front of their store when they came to work at about 5 a.m. Sunday.
At about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, the Florida Highway Patrol had the vehicle towed, Juan Garcia said.
“We don’t know why it was towed,” Garcia said. “Sometimes vehicles are left there from people at the bar nearby.”
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson was not available Sunday night to confirm that the sedan was tied to the case.
Florida Highway Patrol officials say they believe the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle might live in the Parrish, Wimauma or Ruskin areas.
Anyone with information about the vehicle or the crash is asked to call the Florida Highway Patrol at 751-7647, ext. 131.
Said Parrish resident Al Hall, “It’s sad when this happens to anyone.”
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.