Daughter helps troopers find suspect
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Jacqueline Chalifoux is a woman on a mission.
“I just couldn't' go every day and tell him nothing was happening. I had to give him a will to live like 'we'll catch them. I've got your back dad. I'll get them,'” Chalifoux said.
This after her 88-year-old dad, Theodore, was nearly killed in a hit and run wreck.
“He was pretty bad. Broken neck, broken back all of his ribs were broken,” said Chalifoux.
Devastating life-changing injuries and several weeks later, police still had not arrested anyone for smashing into her dad’s car. She desperately wanted the person caught.
“Every step of the way you're thinking ‘how could they do that?’ And, not to know if someone survived or not and to see my dad laying there every day – it’s really tough. I'm going to cry, it's tough.
She pressed the troopers for action, repeatedly, and one of them offered her a clue.
“He called back and said we didn't find anything and what we're looking for is a Ford emblem or part of a Ford truck emblem,” Chalifoux said.
Surveillance video from the Florida Turnpike pointed to a 4-door Ford pick-up truck with front end damage. Armed with that information, Chalifoux found what law enforcement had not.
“I went back out that next night, walked up the ramp, went past the accident scene and there was the Ford emblem laying there,” said Chalifoux.
She didn’t touch it, but instead called the Florida Highway Patrol and stood by until a trooper came to pick it up. Investigators needed something physically linking the suspect’s vehicle to the scene, that Ford emblem did just that.
Troopers flagged the truck and 18 days after the accident, investigators say the driver, Natem Stonic, made a huge mistake. He got greedy and filed an insurance claim saying he'd been hit by a driver who drove off.
Troopers had evidence painting a different story.
After putting the pieces together, troopers arrested Stonic. A dedicated daughter is now one step closer to justice for her dad.
“When the corporal called me from his vehicle with him in the back seat and he has no remorse, none for doing it,” Chalifoux said. “I'm like ‘wow, you're going to get what you deserve.’”
Stonic is has been charged with insurance fraud and tampering with evidence. Troopers say charges for the crash and leaving the scene are currently pending.