Scooter was gift to help man get around, then hit-run driver left him for dead

Noble Horvath

EAST LAKE — Florida Highway Patrol troopers say the rider of an electric scooter was struck and killed last month by a car that had been rented by a Clearwater man. The car was found abandoned the next day and troopers have obtained a judge’s permission to search it. Dewey […]

EAST LAKE — Florida Highway Patrol troopers say the rider of an electric scooter was struck and killed last month by a car that had been rented by a Clearwater man. The car was found abandoned the next day and troopers have obtained a judge’s permission to search it.

Dewey August Sharpe, 42, of Bayonne, N.J., was riding the scooter north on East Lake Road about 2 a.m. Aug. 16 when he was hit from behind while approaching Woodlands Boulevard, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by the Highway Patrol.

Investigators located a chrome front grille from a 2015-2019 Nissan Sentra at the scene.

Dewey Sharpe, 42, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver Aug. 16 as he was riding his scooter. [ Facebook ]

A 2019 Sentra with front-end damage was found and reported to authorities Aug. 17, four miles north in the parking lot of the YMCA at 4550 Village Center Drive in Palm Harbor. The car had a shattered windshield with blood and skin embedded within it, as well as a crushed hood, the affidavit said. The front grille was missing.

Troopers impounded the vehicle and traced it to an Enterprise Rent A Car location in Tulsa, Okla. The company said the car had been rented for the period Aug. 13 to Aug. 17 by a 37-year-old Clearwater man. The man did not contact Enterprise about the collision or damage to the car, the affidavit says.

The Tampa Bay Times is not identifying the man because he has not been accused of a crime. The investigation is still under way, the Highway Patrol said this week.

Dewey Sharpe, a self-employed iron-worker who usually split his time between Las Vegas and New Jersey, was staying with his brother, Dennis Sharpe Jr., in New Port Richey during the pandemic. The two were starting a junk removal company, Abra-Cadabra Trash Be Gone, and stayed in constant contact, texting each other to check in.

The night of the accident, Dewey Sharpe attended a poker tournament. Dennis Sharpe called his brother shortly before he went to sleep that night, reminding him they had a job to work the next morning.

“He said, ‘Okay, I’ll be home in a little bit, I’ll be leaving,” Dennis Sharpe remembered. But in the morning, he wasn’t in his room. Dennis Sharpe didn’t learn what happened until the next day.

Dewey Sharpe didn’t have a driver’s license, his brother said. The electric scooter was a gift from his mother to help him get around while he was staying in Florida.

“My mom told us he had a surprise coming and it was delivered, and that’s how he got around for about three weeks,” Dennis Sharpe said. “It was brand new.”

He doesn’t blame the scooter, he said, but wants the driver brought to justice.

In the request for a search warrant, the Highway Patrol said it is seeking the Nissan’s diagnostic module, also known as a crash data recorder, to learn about speed and braking around the time of the collision. The warrant also seeks information from the vehicle’s entertainment system to determine geographic coordinates during the rental period and whether the system was connected to a person’s mobile phone.

In addition, the warrant also seeks to process the interior of the car for other evidence, including DNA samples.

The information will help determine who was controlling the vehicle at time of the collision, the affidavit states. The search warrant was approved Aug. 21 by Circuit Judge Chris Helinger.

Staff writer Dennis Joyce contributed to this report.

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