Woman admits role in fatal hit-run, Ocala police say

This is the 2007 Chevy Silverado believed to be used in the fatal hit and run that killed Gabrielle Rush, 22, on Southwest 20th Street early Saturday morning. The truck is shown in the evidence bay at the Ocala Police Department in Ocala, FL on Tuesday July 2, 2012.

Published: Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.

OCALA – An Ocala woman has surrendered to police and admitted that she was driving the pickup truck that struck and killed a 22-year-old woman on June 30 before driving off, authorities said.

Amber M. Fernland, 23, showed up at the Ocala Police Department Sunday afternoon with her boyfriend, Travis Aldana, and an attorney, according to a police report.

“The defendant stated she needed to tell what had happened because it weighed heavily on her,” according to the report.

Fernland told police that she was driving Travis Aldana's silver Chevy Silverado around 2:45 a.m. from downtown Ocala, with Aldana and another friend also in the pickup.

She said she was driving along Southwest 20th Street toward the home of Michael Aldana, her boyfriend's father. She briefly looked away from the roadway “at either the speedometer or a mirror, and hit an unknown object,” according to the report.

Police say she had hit Gabrielle Rush, who had been walking on the side of the road on the 2800 block of Southwest 20th Street after leaving the nearby Kangaroo Express store. Authorities pronounced Rush dead at the scene.

Fernland said she was upset about damaging the truck and did not stop at the crash scene. She rushed to Aldana's house, she told police, and parked the pickup behind a mobile home.

Last Tuesday, authorities found the damaged silver 2007 Chevy Silverado parked in the woods behind a residence on West State Road 40 and Interstate 75. Police said the damage to the pickup was consistent with the evidence collected at the crash site.

Michael Aldana, 47, was arrested last Thursday after he was accused of trying to conceal the damage to his son's pickup truck. He was charged with tampering with evidence and released on a $2,000 bond.

Witnesses told police that they saw Aldana covering the truck with tree branches in an apparent attempt to hide the significant front-end damage to the pickup. A witness picked him out of a police lineup.

Michael Aldana led authorities to where the pickup was parked and told them it belonged to his son, Travis Aldana, 24. Travis Aldana has not been charged in connection with the incident.

Police arrested Fernland on a charge of hit and run resulting in a death. She was being held Sunday at the Marion County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

Friends and family said Rush was funny and always smiling. An aspiring nursing assistant, her girlfriend said in previous interviews that Rush had just completed the courses and was waiting to take state exams. She was also a huge Miami Heat fan.

A memorial of flowers, balloons, and teddy bears grace the site of the fatality alongside Southwest 20th Street in Rush's honor.

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