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Deputy hurt in hit-and-run

Kelly Schulze must feel lucky. Or cursed. Or both.

The 26-year-old Pasco County sheriff's deputy has had a tough year, but it could be much worse.

In March, Schulze was struck by a venomous water moccasin during a routine check on a house at 7158 Magnolia Ave. The snake struck her right ankle, cutting the skin without going deep enough to inject poison.

She was treated at North Bay Hospital and released.

Early Saturday, Schulze noticed a suspicious car on Anclote Boulevard during a routine check of the Anclote River Park area about 1 a.m. It was a black, older model compact car with tinted windows, no license plate and a coat hanger holding the trunk closed.

Schulze stopped to inspect the car and record its serial number.

"All of a sudden someone popped up and started the vehicle," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. "She backed away, but they still drove toward her, hit her and knocked her over the hood of the car."

Schulze was able to hit the emergency button on her radio and call help to the scene. Doll said she was flown by helicopter to an area hospital, though he wasn't sure which one.

Schulze was released later Saturday morning with no broken bones, only cuts and bruises. She could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Doll said the suspect who hit her was male, but no further description was available because of the car's tinted windows. He also said the car might have a damaged driver's side mirror, which struck Schulze.

If caught, the driver could face charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and hit and run, both felony offenses.

"In 27 years, this is the first time I've seen anything like this happen," said Lt. J.P. Jackson. He described Schulze as a hard-working, intelligent deputy who does her job well.

"Whenever anybody messes with another officer, it hits home," he said. "It's like someone messing with family. Obviously, we want to catch the person."

Jackson said he also hopes Schulze's string of bad luck will end with Saturday's incident.

"It's been a good (year) for her," Jackson said jokingly. "She doesn't have a lot of experience yet, but she's getting it real quick."