Fla. LEO hospitalized after patrol car hit head-on by wrong-way driver
A woman driving under the influence swerved into the wrong lane and struck the patrol vehicle, breaking a deputy's nose and injuring her arm
Kathy Leigh Berkowitz
LAKELAND, Fla. — A 46-year-old Lakeland woman was arrested on charges of driving under the influence after causing a multi-vehicle crash, which included a violent head-on collision with a Polk County Sheriff's Office patrol car, Tuesday night, according to authorities.
Two deputies were sent to the hospital following the head-on crash involving India Williams' pickup truck and their agency vehicle, the PCSO reported in a news release Wednesday.
The crash occurred around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, when Williams drove into the southbound lane of Combee Road, hitting a PCSO patrol car head-on, according to the release.
The two sheriff's office vehicles had finished a traffic crash investigation and were headed southbound on Combee Road, south of Don's Place and north of South Eastside Drive, when the collision happened, PCSO spokesman Scott Wilder said in the release.
Deputy sheriff trainee Eric Roberts, 37, was driving a 2016 Chevrolet Impala at the time of the crash, Wilder said. His training instructor, Deputy Sheriff Brittney Black, 25, was in the passenger seat, and ahead of them was another patrol car driving in the same direction. The sheriff's office reported that neither patrol car was in emergency mode, nor en route to a service call.
The first patrol deputy reported seeing a red Chevrolet pickup, traveling north on Combee Road, cross the center line into the southbound lane, Wilder said. The deputy swerved into a parking lot to avoid a crash, and the pickup then collided head-on with the patrol car driven by Roberts, the PCSO said.
A third vehicle following Roberts' patrol car swerved to avoid the crash and left the road, landing in a ditch, Wilder said, adding that the driver in that vehicle was not injured.
According to reports, the deputy in the first patrol car notified PCSO dispatch of the crash and immediately began providing assistance at the crash site. Polk County Fire EMS and sheriff's office investigators responded to the scene.
Roberts was able to get out of the patrol car on his own, Wilder said, but Black was initially unconscious and had to be pulled out of the patrol car.
Everyone in the crash was wearing seat belts, the release noted.
Williams was checked for injuries at the scene and then arrested for DUI and taken to the Polk County Jail. Two breath samples taken from her revealed a 0.145 and a 0.151 blood alcohol content, according to reports.
According to the release, Roberts has been with the agency for three months and suffered no significant injuries other than soreness. Black has been with the agency almost 3 1/2 years and remains hospitalized with head and facial injuries, including a compound nose fracture, a possible concussion, an injured arm and soreness.
"I ask for prayers for Deputy Black as she continues to be treated in the hospital — it will take some time for her to recover," Sheriff Grady Judd said in the release. "We cannot say this too often: if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, don't drive. Don't let others drive under the influence. I can assure you, we will hold this drunk driver accountable for her actions."