CLEARWATER — The 1989 Dodge ran into a Nissan, then hit a Ford, then took off in reverse against oncoming traffic on U.S. 19. At first, witnesses and police thought a drunken driver was causing all this destruction. But it turned out to be a man going into diabetic shock.
That didn't become apparent until a Clearwater police officer maneuvered his patrol car into the Dodge's path as it continued to travel in reverse. The Dodge backed into Officer David Nugent's driver's-side door and finally came to a stop.
"Officer Nugent sacrificed his own personal safety to keep other motorists safe," said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.
The incident happened about 6:45 p.m. Sunday on U.S. 19 at Enterprise Road.
Nugent was responding to reports of an apparent drunken driver in a Dodge Aries headed north on U.S. 19. The officer located the Dodge and saw that its driver appeared to be impaired, police said.
Nugent turned on his emergency lights and siren to conduct a traffic stop. The Dodge crashed into a 1996 Nissan stopped at a red light at Enterprise. The Dodge then started to travel in reverse, hitting a 1995 Ford stopped at the same red light. After the second impact, the Dodge kept going in reverse against heavy northbound traffic, police said.
That's when Nugent, a 13-year police veteran, pulled his Ford Crown Victoria into the car's path to prevent further collisions.
Afterward, during the crash investigation, police found that the Dodge's driver — Miguel Costas, 57, of Seminole — was in diabetic shock. His low blood sugar contributed to his actions, police said. Investigators determined that this was a medical emergency and not an impaired driver.
Costas was not charged with a traffic violation because there was no evidence that he had been negligent, Watts said.
Aside from the diabetic issue, Costas was unhurt. Nugent also was unhurt. The Ford's driver was uninjured, and the Nissan's driver sustained a minor injury and refused medical treatment.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4160.