PALM HARBOR — Two people were extricated from a sport utility vehicle that flipped onto its roof on U.S. 19 after a collision with a Tarpon Springs police cruiser Thursday afternoon.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a woman driving a 2003 GMC Envoy southbound made an illegal turn on a red traffic arrow at Nebraska Avenue and drove into the path of the police car, which was headed northbound on U.S. 19.
The woman was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center with serious injuries after the accident, which happened around 3:45 p.m. Her passenger, a male, was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor with minor injuries. Their names were not immediately released.
The driver of the police cruiser, 45-year-old Jose L. Yourgules, was taken to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs with minor injuries. His rank with the police department was not immediately known.
Yourgules and both people in the SUV were all wearing their seatbelts.
The crash closed parts of the northbound lanes for about two hours, the FHP said. Damage to the SUV was estimated at $10,000; damage to the cruiser, $5,000.
Wavey Bates, who was at the Regions Bank near the crash site, said she emerged from the bank to see between 15 and 20 good Samaritans, including a nurse, rushing to the vehicles to check on the occupants.
"They were just telling them that rescue was on the way and to stay calm," Bates said. She was impressed by the quick reaction of bystanders.
"It brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing," said Bates, 34, of Palm Harbor.