Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

His advice: Stay inside, for your car's sake

In almost nine years with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Andy Izrailov has found himself entangled in more than one life-threatening situation.

In 2002, he fatally shot a man who pulled a handgun on him during a routine warrant arrest. A year before that, Izrailov was one of eight deputies who fired weapons during a high-speed chase with a man wanted on a long list of crimes.

But neither experience prepared him for the danger of the live, sparking power line that snaked out of the windy sky Sunday afternoon, grabbed his newly issued cruiser by its spotlight, ripped off the driver's side mirror, lashed the plastic covering of his emergency lights and cracked his windshield.

Don't worry, Izrailov's fine.

Even though he saw sparks fly when the line touched his 2001 white Ford Crown Victoria _ the one he got two weeks ago after requesting a car with tinted windows _ Izrailov had things other than his own well-being to think about.

"My poor car," said the 31-year-old recreational auto mechanic. "I was worried about my car."

Izrailov was traveling west on Trouble Creek Road about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when a line snapped above him and entangled his car.

He remembers veering right to try to escape danger. He remembers slowing down in the rain. But not once does he remember worrying that he might become one of the storm's fatalities.

"I value my car so much _ I know what it takes to fix it," said Izrailov, who has been repairing cars since he was 16.

At least one of the six Florida deaths attributed to Hurricane Jeanne on Sunday was due to electrocution from a downed power line.

Like deputies across the county, Izrailov was back at work Monday, directing traffic where power outages affected busy intersections. His cruiser was the sad-looking, one-eared automobile parked on the median at Rowan Road and Main Street _ right next to the two healthy, intact patrol vehicles belonging to his colleagues.

"They're making fun of my car," he said, smiling. "It's not cool."

Izrailov worked through the storm from 3 a.m. Sunday until the afternoon incident. After the power line ripped the car apart, a team of Progress Energy workers traveling along Trouble Creek in the opposite direction spotted the downed wires and went about servicing them.

Shortly after Izrailov's experience, an SUV drove past and was also struck, he said. The vehicle did not stop. Deputies closed the road immediately thereafter.

Izrailov said he doesn't mean to diminish the danger he knows he escaped. Being a good safety officer, he does have advice.

"When it's really windy and really bad weather, stay inside."

As for the cruiser, it has an appointment today at the county garage. Izrailov should know then how soon it'll be before he gets a new _ or newly bandaged _ mobile office.

Pasco sheriff's Deputy Andy Izrailov, 31, was driving west on Trouble Creek Road at 4:30 p.m. Sunday when a power line snapped and hit the patrol car he had just gotten two weeks earlier. Izrailov, a recreational mechanic, says he was more worried about his car than his own safety.