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Hit and run driver kills Ellenton woman while riding her bicycle

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ll(WSAZ/Marlee Pinchok)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 11:48 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - An Ellenton woman has died after she was hit by a car while riding a bicycle in Manatee County.

Cuc Luong, a 61-year-old Vietnamese woman was riding east on Mendoza Road and Ridgewood Boulevard at around 11:45 p.m. Florida State Troopers say. The driver of the sedan that hit Luong did not stop and authorities are looking for them.

Luong was then taken to a hospital in critical condition but later died, troopers said.

ABC7′s Shane Battis met with Luong’s husband Vanthinh Vu who talked about how heartbroken he is over his tragic loss.

“He said he’s so sad that she’s gone,” Van said with the help of a translator. “He don’t know what to do.”

Kari Nowakowski, a neighbor, described finding Tina after the crash. She and her husband couldn’t see Tina lying in the ditch at first because the roadway is so dark at night, but they ran over an empty shoe and knew something was wrong.

Turning around, they eventually saw Tina’s glowing bicycle light and rushed in to help the woman who was unconscious and badly injured. The Nowakowskis called an ambulance to rush her to the hospital, but it was clear that her wounds were too severe for her to survive.

Nowakowski said it’s unfathomable knowing someone could have hit someone and driven away without so much as calling 911 to help.

“I hope that they can catch the coward who did this,” she said. “Your family would be devastated if this happened to your family member, and no one stopped after they hit them.”

It turns out Nowakowski may have found a clue to help FHP catch the driver. Before the ambulance arrived, she took photos of the scene as evidence for the investigators.

One of them shows the side-view mirror of the car, which had broken off during the wreck, in the grass near where Tina was lying. She hopes this can help investigators find the car and determine who was behind the wheel that night.

Van is hopeful that driver will be brought to justice. He said whoever could do something so terrible has low moral character, but even still they can be redeemed.

“Nobody’s perfect, he would forgive them,” Van said through translation. “He understands they have a wife and kids that they have to take care of and support, but he wants closure, and he wants to forgive them.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is requesting anyone with information concerning this crash to contact Crime Stoppers or *FHP (*347) on a cellular phone.

Luong’s employer, Cali Nails, has established a GoFundMe campaign to help pay funeral costs.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/tina-burial-expense?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR2wiqxpU0NYHx7IlJEU3OmyRgRq75jDr7UUzxWxSsqAlA1R8UzLiM65FNs

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