Driver crashes into occupied Tarpon Springs police car

TARPON SPRINGS — An officer and an arrested woman were inside a marked Tarpon Springs police vehicle when a driver suspected of DUI crashed into it Wednesday night, police said.

Around 9:30 p.m., Officer Steve Gassen stopped a red scooter on Pinellas Avenue, south of Lemon Street. The scooter's driver, 43-year-old Amy Beth Jakaitis-Hobbs of Clearwater, was arrested for violating a domestic violence injunction, police said. She was handcuffed in the back seat of the police vehicle, wearing a seat belt.

The police vehicle, a marked 2011 Chevy Tahoe, was in a parking space off the west side of the street with its emergency lights activated, police said. Gassen sat in the front seat, confirming information on his computer and through dispatch. Officer Jeffrey Crawford was leaning against the passenger's side of the police vehicle.

That's when police say a 2004 Nissan Xterra driven by Gino Morgan Marino crashed into the back of the police vehicle.

The impact pushed the Tahoe forward, damaging the stopped scooter in front of it and throwing Crawford backward against a tree, police said.

Both officers, Jakaitis-Hobbs and Marino were taken to Florida Hospital North Pinellas, where they were treated for minor injuries and released.

Marino, 44, of Holiday was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County jail. He faces charges of refusal to submit to testing and driving under the influence. He also received citations for failure to move over or slow down, possessing an open container and failure to wear a seat belt.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or swang@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Driver crashes into occupied Tarpon Springs police car 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 9:59pm]

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