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Deputy hospitalized after he is hit by car at festival

A 72-year-old woman drove into an off-duty Pasco County sheriff's deputy directing traffic Friday night on U.S. 19 outside the Hudson Seafest, authorities said.

William M. Lindsey, 26, who was hired by the Sheriff's Office last year, was in stable condition Saturday afternoon at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, a hospital representative said. That means he requires constant monitoring but all indications are favorable.

Lindsey suffered a broken vertebra at the base of his skull, a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder and a possible chipped collarbone, Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

There was no indication Lindsey had suffered any paralysis, Doll said.

About 10:19 p.m., Lindsey was trying to halt southbound traffic on the busy road just south of Beach Boulevard.

"He had stopped one lane of traffic," Doll said. "He was going to the center lane to stop that one."

Lindsey was wearing an orange reflective vest and holding a glowing traffic wand, Florida Highway Patrol troopers said.

Kathleen S. Switzer was on her way to work as a nurse's assistant at Community Hospital of New Port Richey. She never saw Lindsey, she told the Times on Saturday.

"I didn't know anything until "bang,' right against my windshield," she said. "I looked around to the back of my car and I see him laying on the pavement and I realized what had happened."

Doll said she was going about 45 mph when she hit him.

"I couldn't have been going that fast," Switzer said.

Switzer said she had seen the flashing lights from Lindsey's patrol car and had slowed to about 30 to 35 mph.

Lindsey was flown to the hospital. Switzer of 15831 Archer St. was cited for careless driving and a violation of a driver's license restriction, troopers said. She was driving a 2002 Toyota, which sustained $1,000 in front-end damage, troopers said.

The FHP would not say Saturday what driver's license restriction she had violated, but Switzer said her license states that she must wear eyeglasses. She said she has had eye surgery since that restriction was ordered and she didn't know she needed to get it removed.

In 1996, Switzer was found guilty in Pasco of driving under the influence, records state. Alcohol was not a factor in Friday's accident, troopers said.

"I've been saying prayers for him," Switzer said. "I'm sure sorry it's happened."

_ Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavissptimes.com.

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