Mercedes driver arrested in hit & run that killed USPS postal carrier, claimed roommate did it

Mercedes driver arrested in hit & run that killed USPS postal carrier, claimed roommate did it

(As originally published, Wed, December 20th 2023)

TAMPA, Fla. (TND) — A man in Florida is under arrest, accused of killing a USPS mail carrier on Monday afternoon, and then driving off. He was arrested the next day.

Tampa police said they found an overturned USPS mail delivery truck at the scene, where the driver — 69-year-old Paul Falica — was pronounced dead.

He was heading east through an intersection when he was struck by a southbound vehicle, and witnesses reported seeing a Mercedes sedan escape the scene.

Christopher Prater's citation by Lenny Cohen on Scribd

Police said they recovered evidence including “part of a bumper insert commonly used in some 1998-2003 Mercedes Benz sedan models.”

That wasn’t all. Far from it.

An anonymous tip “suggested Christopher Prater was involved in the hit & run crash,” police said.

Detectives followed up on that and other leads, and “located the suspect vehicle parked in the driveway of [a home]. Detectives contacted Christopher Prater, residing at this residence, where he reported that his roommate had been driving the vehicle but was no longer in the area.”

Then, investigators said the owner told them, “He parked the vehicle at this location a few days prior. The owner did not authorize anyone to drive his vehicle and provided keys to Prater to keep at the residence in case the car needed to be moved.”

Finally, they got a search warrant and reported, “Fingerprints recovered from inside matched those of Christopher Prater and a debit card with his name was found inside.

“The oil pan cover was missing from underneath and there was visible damage to the front bumper consistent with impact from a crash.

Mercedes driver arrested in hit & run that killed USPS postal carrier, claimed roommate did it
Christopher Eric Prater was charged with leaving the scene of a crash with death, and driving with a suspended license resulting in death, Dec. 19, 2023. (Hillsborough Co. Sheriff’s Office)

“Additional evidence was gathered that contradicted Prater’s statement, including nearby video surveillance showing Prater entering and exiting the vehicle before and after it returned with front end damage consistent with that found at the scene of the crash.

“Witnesses also identified Prater as being seen wearing clothing matching what he had on in video footage on same day as crash occurred.”

Prater, 56, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with leaving the scene of a crash with death, and driving with a suspended license resulting in death.

Bond was set at $17,000 and he has not been released.

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