Bay County man charged after allegedly striking, killing 4-year-old at PCB shopping center

PANAMA CITY BEACH — A Bay County man has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury or death after he allegedly struck and killed a child at Breakfast Point Marketplace on Tuesday.

Kenneth Ray Martinez, 62, of Panama City Beach was taken into custody and is being held in the Bay County Jail, Beach police reported.

The 4-year-old child, who was vacationing here with her family from the Nashville area, was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim’s name is not being released at the request of the family.

Police received a call at 2:12 p.m. Tuesday that a child had been struck between Publix and Office Depot at the shopping center at the intersection of Panama City Beach Parkway and Richard Jackson Boulevard.

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Witnesses told police the suspect was driving a lifted, black truck with Texas tags. Officers utilized the technology of the Bay Real Time Operations Center, business surveillance cameras and license plate readers to track the vehicle. Martinez recently had been cited for driving under the influence, police said.

Officers responded to Martinez's Paddock Club address and located the vehicle. Officers knocked on Martinez's door and initially no one answered. Eventually, Martinez and a female exited the residence.

According to police, the female, who was not with Martinez at the time of the hit and run, provided incriminating statements indicating that Martinez was involved in the crash. A search warrant was executed at his residence and a receipt from Publix was found which confirmed Martinez was at the store minutes before the crash.

Martinez refused a blood draw, refused to speak with investigators and refused consent to search his phone, police officials said.

He is awaiting a first appearance.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Panama City Beach hit-and-run: 4-year-old struck, killed; man arrested