Police: Car Hits Woman; Copper Thieves Blamed

Copper Thefts Rising In S. Fla.

MIAMI - A woman underwent emergency surgery late Wednesday after she was hit by a car on a road without working street light.

Miami police said Thelma Morrow, 52, was crossing Northwest Seventh Avenue near 59th Street when she was hit. She was wearing all dark clothing, and the driver of the vehicle did not see her coming, police said.

The driver, Kinston Dugason, 28, stayed at the scene and called 911 to help the injured woman. Police said Dugason likely will not be charged.

Morrow is in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

"She didn't see the car because of the rain," Lt. Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire Rescue told Local 10's Ross Palombo .

Carroll said it was because of the missing streetlights.

A 30-block stretch of road was unlit because copper wiring had been stolen from the street lights, rendering them inoperable.

"We all feel if the street lights were on, she wouldn't be fighting for her life," Carroll said.

The crash highlights a growing problem with copper thefts across South Florida. Thieves steal the copper and fork over the stolen goods to recycling companies that pay cash.

Thirty miles along Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County are just now having their copper replaced at a cost of $200,000.

In Broward County, 24 businesses in a Davie shopping center had their air conditioning copper stolen.

In Liberty City, electricians were on the streets Thursday, replacing the copper wiring in the area where the pedestrian was severely injured.

Several Miami-Dade County commissioners have expressed interest in creating a copper theft ordinance that would impose strict penalties for thieves and tough rules on copper recycling businesses.

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