HUDSON — A Pasco sheriff's deputy was hospitalized early Thursday morning after another driver broadsided her patrol car at high speed, authorities said. Troopers believe that driver had been drinking.
Sgt. Amy Diel, who was on duty, was stopped about 3:15 a.m. at a red light on State Road 52 at U.S. 19 when the car plowed into her, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.
Steven Kent Crabtree was heading north on U.S. 19, driving about 80 mph, when he tried to make the right turn onto SR 52, FHP said. He lost control of his Toyota RAV4 and barreled over a raised median on SR 52, slamming into the driver's side of Diel's patrol car, troopers said.
The report says Crabtree, 47, had an open container of alcohol with him.
The force of the crash spun both cars counterclockwise and pushed Diel's car across another lane and up onto the sidewalk.
The driver's and back passenger's side doors on the patrol car had been battered in, causing $20,000 damage, the report states. The front end of the RAV4 was crushed, the report states, and the front airbag was deployed.
The report says Diel was wearing her seatbelt. Crabtree was not. Both were taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.
Diel, 37, remained in the hospital Thursday afternoon with bruising but no broken bones, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.
It was unclear if Crabtree was still in the hospital.
"This just shows the dangers deputies can face patrolling, even if they're sitting at a red light," Doll said. "They're out there 24/7."
Previously a resource officer at Mitchell High School, Diel was given a Meritorious Service Medal for Accomplishment in 2005 for helping clean up Anclote Cemetery.
After the crash, Crabtree refused to submit to a Breathalyzer, the FHP report states, but a blood test was taken. Deputies are waiting on the results. He is accused of careless driving and driving under the influence.
Court records show he was convicted of DUI in May 2010. He was placed on probation and his driver's license was revoked for one year.
Alex Orlando can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.