Disney intern’s hit-and-run death: Muslim group demands arrest

A year after the hit-and-run death of a Walt Disney World intern, the American Muslim Youth Leadership Council in Kissimmee is demanding an arrest and intends to offer a reward today for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the driver.

Imam Abufarah Helmi Elagha will hold a news conference at the council’s mosque on West U.S. Highway 192 today — shortly after the one-year anniversary of the death of Mahomood Arabi.

“Above all we would like to ask the Florida Highway Patrol to move forward and expedite the process,” the imam wrote in an email to Central Florida media. “This is a crime. This is a MURDER! We are seriously concerned with the amount of evidence collected yet no arrest has taken place.”

FHP expects to make an arrest in the near future, according to FHP Sgt. Kim Montes.

“We are writing the last chapter of Mahomood Arabi’s life and want to make sure the most accurate, air-tight case possible goes into a courtroom,” Montes said today. “Some victims’ families truly don’t understand how the system works.”

The last pieces of DNA trace evidence from the hit-and-run crash were received last week from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime laboratory, she said. A homicide investigator will review it and “then we’ll forward,” she said.

Less than a week after Arabi was struck crossing International Drive on March 18, FHP troopers found a green 1997 4-door vehicle matching the description of the hit-and-run vehicle.

The 22-year-old intern from Australia, known as “Mike,” was hit at 12:25 a.m. in a crosswalk while he had the right of way at the intersection with Vineland Road. Witnesses described the hit-and-vehicle and told troopers it sped away northbound, according to FHP.

“The damage to this vehicle consistent with striking a pedestrian and the owner of this vehicle is our only person of interest,” said Montes. Investigators have been corresponding by e-mail with Arabi’s mother with the last information sent in late December to keep the family informed about the investigation, she said.

In Elagha’s announcement about today’s press conference, he also faulted Walt Disney World by writing, “Disney supported the family briefly at the time of the tragedy, yet it’s clear that Disney did not utilize all of its resources to assist in putting the person liable for the death of Mahomood behind bars.”

“No private company has any influence or jurisdiction over a criminal investigation,” Montes said.

hcurtis@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5257