MIAMI
02/19/2013 09:24 am ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

Miami-Dade Had 12,813 Hit-And-Run Crashes In 2012, Highest In Florida: FHP (VIDEO)

Miami-Dade County ranks highest in the state when it comes to hit-and-run crashes: the 305 saw a whopping 12,813 accidents in which drivers fled in 2012, following 15,229 in 2011. That's more than 35 hit-and-runs per day, on average.

In fact, "Broward and Miami-Dade add up to nearly 20,000 hit-and-run crashes out of the state's 69,994 crashes last year," Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Adding in Palm Beach's county's 3,381 hit-and-runs means South Florida accounts for a third of such incidents in the state.

The human toll in such crashes across the state is staggering. "Nearly 17,000 people were injured and 166 people were killed," said FHP's Sgt. Mark Wysocki at a press conference launching the department's new awareness campaign.

WSVN reports that penalty in an accident involving a fatality can be as little as a citation -- but if a driver flees the scene, he or she may be sentenced to as many as 30 years in state prison.

Such cases have dominated Miami news, including the 2010 death of cyclist Christophe LeCanne on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The driver, aspiring pop singer Carlos Bertonatti, drove nearly three miles with LeCanne's bicycle wedged underneath his car and is expected to plead guilty in the case this morning.

In another case, a grandfather was killed after he was hit by a car whose driver stopped to help, but was subsequently struck by five to eight other cars -- none of which slowed down.

On Friday, Nikki Beach bartender Karlie Tomica appeared in court to be charged with DUI manslaughter after blood tests confirmed she was drunk when she fatally struck well-known chef Stefano Riccioletti last month and refused to stop. Tomica, 20, had to be chased by a good samaritan who relayed information to police.

The following day, bicyclist Dwight Morrison was killed when a driver fleeing another hit-and-run slammed into him in Davie.

“When I turn on the news, I cringe when I hear about another hit-and-run. I am past fed up. I don't want another family to go through what I am going through," Kevin Reddick told the Sun Sentinel. His 20-year-old son Kevin Reddick Jr. was killed in 2010 in Alachua County by a driver who didn't stop.

FHP officials said three out of every five fatalities in 2012 were pedestrians struck in hit-and-run crashes -- a rallying point for local transit and cycling advocates well aware that Miami is the fourth-most dangerous city for pedestrians in the nation.

Elsa Roberts, who has begun organizing safety walks for a campaign to reclaim Miami's crosswalks, told Biscayne Times, "The biggest thing that’s going to make drivers who are antagonistic change their mindset -- that they’re the ones who have a right to occupy that space -- is more actions like this, and more enforcement until the idea that cars supersede people goes away."

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