St. Petersburg police searching for driver who hit officer

This is the scene of a crash at Neptune Drive SE and Manatee Drive in St. Petersburg on Monday night where the trouble began.

DIRK SHADD | Times

This is the scene of a crash at Neptune Drive SE and Manatee Drive in St. Petersburg on Monday night where the trouble began.

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was hospitalized after being hit by a car Monday night at the scene of a crash.

St. Petersburg police were searching late Monday for the car's driver.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said the officer's injuries were not life-threatening. His name was withheld until his family was notified.

Puetz said that based on preliminary information, it happened this way:

Police and firefighter-paramedics answered a call to a crash at Neptune Drive and Beach Drive SE on Coquina Key, where a car had struck a pole and knocked down power lines.

Officers blocked off the street.

About 8:45 p.m. a silver, four-door sedan came fast toward the intersection and then came to an abrupt stop.

When a police officer approached the male driver, he caught a strong odor of marijuana in the car.

The officer ordered the driver to cut off the car, and he complied.

But when the officer told him and his passenger to get out, they were reluctant.

Two other officers came to help.

They got the passenger out of the car, but when they opened the driver's side door, he restarted the car, hit the gas and ran into three officers with the open car door. He also hit a fire rescue vehicle parked nearby. The driver kept going and was gone before police could chase him.

The passenger was detained, Puetz said, and officers believe they have identified the driver.

Police did not release the name of the passenger or the suspected driver.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

St. Petersburg police searching for driver who hit officer 03/11/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:02am]

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