2 dead in Polk County hit-and-run - New York News

2 dead in Polk County hit-and-run, police seek suspect vehicle

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Rick Cobenais, one of the hit-and-run victims Rick Cobenais, one of the hit-and-run victims

Polk County sheriff's officials are seeking the public's help in locating a pickup truck following a fatal hit-and-run that left two men dead on Saturday evening.

Around 6:30 p.m., two men were hit and killed by a vehicle that was traveling south on County Highway E in the Round Lake Native American Community, located in eastern Polk County.

Fox 9 News confirmed 41-year-old Rick Cobenais is one of the two victims killed in the crash. Friends identified Ben Juarez as the second victim. 

"Everybody's taking it real hard. It's real devastating on everyone," said Vicki Merrill, cousin to Cobenais' wife.

The two men were reportedly involved in a physical altercation at a nearby residence that spilled onto the highway before they were hit and killed. Merrill told Fox 9 News Cobenais's wife, stepdaughter and grandson were watching when the crash occurred.

"This family has done a lot to help with the community," Merrill said. "Rick has always been the one transporting one of our tribal elders, and I mean, he's dedicated his life to his family."

Investigators say the road was wet at the time, and the conditions may have made it difficult to see the men in the road. Now, they hope employees of auto repair shops and stores will be on the lookout for a vehicle that matches the description to help find the driver.

"This family just needs some kind of closure," Merrill continued. "We just really want for them to step up and just admit they did something wrong."


Police are looking for a dark colored pickup truck, possibly a Ford. It may have two auxiliary amber warning lights mounted atop the cab. Witnesses saw a blue plastic barrel in the back of the truck and said it will likely have damage to the front, primarily near the undercarriage.

Investigators believe at least two people were in the pickup at the time of the hit-and-run. Both are believed to be white men wearing baseball caps and at least one was wearing blue jeans. The driver stopped briefly before heading southbound on County Road E once more. 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Polk County Sheriff's Department at 715-485-8300.

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