PINELLAS PARK — A Pinellas Park police officer early Wednesday flipped his cruiser into the front yard of a home as he tried to stop a speeding vehicle, police said.
Joseph Puglia, 38, an 11-year veteran, saw a car speed through a four-way stop at 60th Street and 102nd Avenue about 7:30 a.m., said police Sgt. Brian Unmisig. Puglia estimated the car was going about 50 mph in the 35 mph zone, Unmisig said.
Puglia turned on his lights and sirens and tried to pull over the car, Unmisig said. As he accelerated, Puglia's car hit a wet patch of road and he lost control, police said. Unmisig said he was going about 5 mph under the speed limit.
The back end of the cruiser fishtailed, Unmisig said. Puglia's vehicle spun 180 degrees, went off the south side of the road, hit the curb and a mailbox and rolled onto its roof in the front yard of Thomas Dillingham's home in the 5900 block of 102nd Avenue.
No one was injured.
Dillingham was getting ready for a morning bike ride when he heard the crash, Bay News 9 reported.
"What I saw was just the car flipping upside down," Dillingham said. "I left the window because I wasn't sure where the car was going to stop. I came outside after the car stopped. We helped the officer out of the car, and he was fine."
Unmisig said there will be a crash investigation and an internal review. The incident will eventually go before a crash review board, where some sort of disciplinary action is possible.
"Certainly the condition of the roadway and the law enforcement action contributed, but at some point the driver has a responsibility to maintain control of his vehicle," Unmisig said.
Unmisig said he believes this is Puglia's first crash.
The speeding vehicle got away.