Police arrested two construction workers on Sept. 23, after the death of a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed in an overnight roadwork zone on Interstate 275 near Roosevelt Boulevard in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg.
Deputy Michael Hartwick, 51, died early Sept. 23 after getting struck by “a large front loader with forklifts, used to move concrete barriers” driven Juan Ariel Molina, 32, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
First responders pronounced the deputy dead at the scene.
“Molina continued to drive north for a quarter of a mile before coming to a stop. Detectives say Molina told another construction worker that he ‘just killed a deputy,’ gave his construction helmet and vest to him, and then Molina fled the scene on foot,” according to police.
Police said Molina’s coworker, 31-year-old Elieser Aureilio Gomez-Zelaya, “hid the helmet and vest in a wooded area to the west of the scene.”
The death sparked a nine-hour manhunt for Molina.
“Molina was located by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office bloodhound, hiding in a brush area,” PCSO said.
Molina faces one count of leaving the scene of deadly crash. Gomez-Zelaya was charged with one count of accessory after the fact. Both were booked to the Pinellas County Jail.
Hartwick served as a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy since 2003.