More charges expected in fatal hit-run

Published February 22, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - A man jailed after an early morning fatal crash on U.S. 41 Wednesday is likely to face more charges.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Michael A. Velardocchia, 21, of 6045 Boyette Road in Wesley Chapel, was driving south on U.S. 41 near Little Lake Road about 3 a.m. Wednesday when he lost control of his 2005 Ford Expedition, crossed the highway and struck a man walking along the shoulder. The Explorer veered back into the roadway, spinning around before overturning.

The patrol said Velardocchia, who was not injured, fled the scene after talking to residents at a nearby motel. A Pasco sheriff's tracking dog caught up to him about 2 miles from the crash scene.

The pedestrian died at the scene. FHP investigators had identified him through fingerprints but were still trying to contact family members later Wednesday.

Velardocchia faces charges of leaving the scene of a crash with death, and driving on a suspended license resulting in death. A charge of DUI manslaughter is forthcoming, FHP spokesman Larry Coggins said, pending the results of toxicology tests.

"We have his blood and we know he was impaired," Coggins said.

Velardocchia was being held Wednesday in the county jail in Land O'Lakes in lieu of $20,000 bail. He has no prior criminal record in Florida, records show.