Daughter searches for hit and run driver responsible for her fathers death

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:21 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A young woman is desperate for the community’s help in finding the driver that left her father for dead after a hit-and-run crash in Panama City last week.

Ashlyn Butler, 18, remembers feeling her heart sink when she heard the news.

“We get a knock on the door from the police saying that he was killed in a hit and run and the driver left. And he wasn’t going to be coming back home again. And I cried for hours. And then I had to tell my little brother the next morning,” Ashlyn said.

Panama City Police held a press conference Tuesday where they released a new photo of the Hispanic male they believe is responsible for the death of 47-year-old Mark Butler.

Ashlyn’s father, Mark Butler, was driving up U.S. 231 late last Tuesday, towing a utility trailer that lost some of its load while trying to turn off Highway 390. Officers said Butler parked safely and got out to remove the debris when another car hit him and sped off.

“He knows that he hit a person. It’s not that he hit something else. He knows that he hit a person. He intentionally left the scene of the accident, traveled approximately five miles up north on 231 until the vehicle couldn’t go any further because of damage that was caused when he struck Mr. Butler,” Panama City Police Chief Mark Smith said. “This picture was taken in a local restaurant just prior to the traffic accident. This individual killed somebody. Knows that he did it. And intentionally left the scene.”

As investigators continue their search, Ashlyn said she’s struggling to face the fact she’s lost the only parent she had left.

“We recently lost our mother as well so he’s been providing for me and my little brother and now it’s just me and my little brother. So it’s going to be pretty hard without my best friend,” Ashlyn said.

Ashlyn said all she wants to know is who the suspect is. While it won’t bring Butler back, she hopes it will bring peace to her and her brother.

“It would mean justice, it would mean closure, it would mean I can sleep at night knowing that my father’s killer was caught,” Ashlyn said. “It’s just such a shock that it still hasn’t processed that he was murdered. He’s not just gone, somebody ran after knowing what they did and that hurts because he was never that person and he didn’t deserve it.”

The family created a GoFundMe, not only for their father’s funeral costs but also to help pay for groceries and their future living situation.

Police are asking anyone who may have seen anything or who may know anything about the driver, do not hesitate. If you do know anything, you can call the Panama City Police Department at 850- 872-3100, or you can report tips anonymously through the “Panama City PD” Tip411 app.

Officers said the suspect works construction jobs across Florida so he could be anywhere.

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