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Suspect arrested in deadly Cape Coral Bridge hit-and-run

Florida Highway Patrol confirms a suspect has been arrested for leaving the scene of the deadly crash that killed Austin Manke, 21, on the Cape Coral Bridge early Sunday morning.

According to FHP, state troopers arrested Clody, Gonzalez Vera, 20, of Cape Coral for leaving the scene of the deadly crash.

Clody Gonzalez Vera, 20. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
2015 Nissan Altima impounded by FHP. Credit: FHP.

Troopers say vera was driving a black 2015 Nissan Altima over the bridge when the Nissan hit the back of the scooter Manke was riding. Vera fled the scene, and Manke was pronounced dead by first responders.

Investigators found the Nissan and later arrested Vera.

Vera is in custody at Lee County Jail without bond posted currently.

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Austin Paul Manke, 21. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

A Cape Coral man driving a motorcycle scooter died in a hit-and-run crash early Sunday morning.

Austin Paul Manke, 21, was driving westbound on the inside lane of the Cape Coral Bridge. A vehicle was moving behind him. According to the Florida Highway Patrol press release, the vehicle struck the rear of the motorcycle scooter causing Manke to crash. Manke was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends of Manke say he drove a moped often and was returning home from work when he was killed in the crash.

“He made sure that we were a family,” friend Jennifer Colofranson said. “It wasn’t just friends to us. We were family when we didn’t have any. He made sure of that.”

Manke’s tight-knit friends say they miss him and are freshly coping with his sudden death.

“I think we all just want our friend back,” friend Sarah Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez told us Manke was always the life of the party and the first person to make someone feel included during a gathering.

“When you’re hanging out with Austin you feel like you can see how happy he gets to make other people laugh and to make other people feel like they’re at a good place,” Rodriguez said.

Liam Zynda was Manke’s roommate and best friend. He told us about Austin.

“Austin is one of the most kind-hearted people I ever met,” Zynda said. “He describes himself as an entertainer. He loved to make other people laugh, loved to make other people happy.”

The suspect vehicle, “possibly black in color,” left the scene with damages that likely includes a missing left side mirror.

“I feel like you have to be in a really dark place to take a life and drive away,” Colofranson said.

Anyone with information can call FHP at 239-938-1800.

“Been trying so hard not to keep ourselves angry because that’s not what he would want,” Zynda said. “He would want us to just try and stay positive.”

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
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