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Wrong-way driver, 17, crashes into police cruiser at USF Tampa, police say

The Tampa police officer received minor injuries. She had activated her emergency lights. The driver is a suspect in earlier hit-and-run crashes.
Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 8

TAMPA — An impaired 17-year-old driving the wrong way at the entrance to the University of South Florida ran head-on into the front of a Tampa police cruiser after the officer activated her emergency lights, police said.

The airbags deployed on the officer’s car and she suffered a cut on her wrist but was able to return to duty after treatment. The teenage driver was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence and faces other charges in the wrong-way crash, police said. The driver was not injured.

The crash occurred about 2:25 a.m. Friday morning along LeRoy Collins Boulevard north of Fowler Avenue on the USF campus.

The officer was working off duty at a club on Fowler Avenue when she was alerted by drivers there that their cars had been struck by a dark pickup truck, police said in a news release. The officer was trying to find the truck when she was flagged down by other drivers told her “he went that way,” indicating north on LeRoy Collins Boulevard, police said.

The officer was headed north on LeRoy Collins when she spotted the truck traveling south in the northbound lanes. She stopped and activated her emergency lights but the truck kept coming and hit her car head-on, police said.

The driver was detained for questioning in the earlier hit and run crashes. Officers on the scene observed signs of impairment, conducted a DUI investigation and arrested the suspect on DUI charges.

Police did not identify the officer or the driver.