Timothy Sweat was severely injured when he was struck by an SUV late at night/early morning of May 19/20. The time was about 12:40 a.m.
Sweat, a Wilton Manors resident, said he was walking home from a bar along Wilton Drive and was hit by the SUV as he was using the crosswalk at Northeast 8 Avenue.
By the time it was over, the unknown driver of the SUV had fled the scene and left Sweat with a dislocated hip, severe injuries to his face and side, and medical bills that have now risen to over $40,000.
“There was one camera [at Island City Lofts, next to where I was hit] but it faced towards the parking lot. So, there was nothing captured on camera.” He added that witnesses saw the hit and run and called the police. “I have no memory of it at all.”
He’s offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual responsible, but he’s not very confident the guilty party will be caught. “They need to be off the street and I need to pay these bills off. I realize at this point I’m kind of fighting against the tides. The community at least needs to know it’s not safe. It’s a shame.”
And while Sweat praised the police and EMS response to the hit and run, he’s critical of the police department’s attempt to find the person responsible.
Sweat wants Wilton Manors to do more to improve safety along Wilton Drive, a concern that has been expressed by others for years. “No one seems to care. It’s gay pride and no one wants to discuss the subject. If I were a teenaged person with a gun this would get national attention. But I’m just a dude walking home.”
Assistant Chief of Police Gary Blocker told the Gazette: "I have reviewed the report authored by the investigating officer and have reached out to Mr. Sweat to discuss the case and his thoughts, and I await his return response. We have evaluated potential investigative leads and will look for more via our conversation with him, as holding this hit & run driver accountable is the goal of any incident like this."
Over the past several years, there have been multiple pedestrians injured and killed along Wilton Drive. City officials and residents have talked about making the street safer. Crosswalks and stop lights have been installed to do just that. The city is also in the midst of a state-led and funded project to reduce the number of lanes, from two in each direction to one in each direction, along Wilton Drive.
Advocates of the project say it will improve safety and help businesses. Opponents say it will cause traffic problems and end up costing the city money. Asked recently about the cost, state officials reiterated a previous statement that the state would fund changes to the road. Some of the landscaping and other aesthetic costs will be funded by the city.