Crime

Video released of hit-and-run that killed Sarasota man in wheelchair

SARASOTA -- Footage has been released of a hit-and-run crash that killed a Sarasota man in a wheelchair at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

In a short red-light camera video, 48-year-old Michael Wright can be seen at a crosswalk, wheeling across U.S. 301 at 17th Street in Sarasota. Moments later, he's struck by an unidentified vehicle -- his body flipping over on impact.

The Sarasota Police Department released the graphic video Wednesday to media outlets while requesting the public's assistance in identifying a suspect vehicle in the fatal crash.

"Based on the video, officers believe the vehicle has heavy front end damage as well as substantial windshield damage," said Sarasota police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge in an email.

Sarasota police said the suspect vehicle appears to be a four-door sedan traveling north. Wright's wheelchair wound up in a crumpled heap on the road's concrete median.

A lone black sneaker lay near the chair in photos released from the incident scene. A red-and-black backpack was still slung over what remained of the wheel chair. A rubber tire was entangled with a broken wheel.

Judge said the suspect could face felony charges of leaving the scene of a vehicle crash causing death. Additional charges are possible depending on the outcome of the investigation, she added.

"Our officers have interviewed a couple people, but we're still investigating it," Judge said when reached by phone Wednesday evening.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Sarasota officer Kevin Schafer at 941-366-8000, ext. 7870, or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS (8477) or go to sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.

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