Innocent driver hit by teen who crashed stolen car in Palm Harbor says he’s lucky to be alive

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – A Clearwater man is recovering after he was hit by a stolen vehicle that crashed and left three of the teens inside dead.

Ricky Melendez says he was on his way to work Sunday morning when he was hit on US Highway 19 and Tampa Road.

“I was going through this green light at Tampa Road and all of a sudden out of nowhere, I just got hit and I remember a loud bang,” he said. “All of a sudden, next thing I know, I’m spinning and landed facing traffic on the other side of the road.”

Melendez said he’s lucky to be alive.

“I kind of just got out of the car, looked at my car. I was in shock that I survived something like that,” he said.

Pinellas County deputies said the teenagers were spotted in stolen vehicles around 4 a.m.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the teens were playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

“It was just sad that three kids just died. Teenagers 14, 16 years old,” Melendez said. “I thought about their parents and how upset. And I just looked at my dad in the hospital and that could have easily been me.”

Melendez was released from the hospital Monday. He has a broken collar bone, broken ankle and a hematoma in his stomach.

Melendez’s family started a GoFundMe account to help with his bills.

He is expected to be out of work for 4 to 6 weeks.


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