Two hit-and-run crashes in a single week seriously injured bicyclists in The Villages, horrifying the large tight-knit cycling community in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
The first crash occurred Oct. 30 when 60-year-old Jessica Laube and 68-year-old Robert Hunter of the Village of Dunedin were bicycling on Morse Boulevard near Bonita Boulevard and were hit from behind by a white Mercedes. The driver, described as an elderly woman with a cane, reportedly got out of the car, took a look at the crumpled cyclists on the ground, got back in and drove away. When 89-year-old Marilyn Hamilton of the Village of Fernandina took the 2014 Mercedes up to Gainesville for repairs, it led to her arrest by the Florida Highway Patrol. Hamilton has pleaded not guilty to two counts of hit and run. Laube, who continues to recover from a serious head injury, was released from the hospital and able to be back home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
William Joseph Croop Jr.
The bicycling community in The Villages was still reeling from this chilling crash when 61-year-old Ken Nevers, of the Village of Fenney, was bicycling on the morning of Nov. 3 near the Manatee Recreation Center when he suffered severe head trauma including memory loss, a broken rib, and a fractured shoulder along with lacerations on his face and head after being hit by a Jaguar that fled the scene.
FHP received a tip which led to 3089 Glenwood Place in the Village of Glenbrook, a home that was later raided resulting in the arrest of a Villager and his adult daughter. The driver of the Jaguar was identified as 59-year-old William Joseph Croop of Orange Springs. Croop, who has a criminal history, continues to be held without bond on a charge of hit and run.