Witness follows hit and run vehicle

OKEECHOBEE — After witnessing a hit and run accident, a witness followed the vehicle and reported to 911 dispatch the location of the white Chevrolet pickup truck. On Dec. 9, several 911 calls were made after a white truck, reportedly driven by Fernando Javier Zapata, 59, of Port St. Lucie, hit another vehicle and then left the scene. While Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Varnadore was speaking to the driver of the vehicle that was hit, the white truck drove past them and the second driver pointed it out.

Fernando Javier Zapata

Deputy Varnadore jumped into his patrol car and followed the truck, catching up to him at the intersection of U.S. 441 Southeast and U.S. 441 South. Deputy Michael Cauley arrived on the scene and when Zapata allegedly resisted Deputy Varnadore, Deputy Cauley assisted him with the arrest.

Due to Zapata’s erratic behavior, EMS was called to the scene, and he was transported to Raulerson Hospital. After his release from the hospital, Zapata was charged with DUI with damaged property, leaving the scene of an accident involving damage and resisting arrest without violence. His bond was set at $2,500.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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