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Pinellas sheriff's deputy causes three-vehicle crash while checking laptop

Published Oct. 13, 2016

PALM HARBOR — A sheriff's deputy caused a three-vehicle crash Wednesday while responding to call, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, because he was distracted by his laptop.

Deputy John Newman was sent to check on the wellbeing of a person on Landmark Boulevard when the crash took place at about 4:45 p.m. The deputy drove his agency-issued 2013 Chevy Tahoe east on Curlew Road. The deputy drove by Landmark, the agency said, then looked down at his laptop to get more information about the call.

That's why the deputy didn't see traffic stopped ahead of him for the red light at the intersection of Curlew and McMullen Booth Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The deputy's sport-utility vehicle struck the rear of a 2009 Honda CRV driven by Anna Donaldson, 66. The Tahoe then pushed her Honda into the rear of a 1999 Toyota 4-Runner driven by James Higgins, 34.

Donaldson was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Newman and Higgins were not injured in the crash, the agency said.

The deputy was driving in "non-emergency, normal response mode," according to the Sheriff's Office, which did not say how fast the deputy was driving or if his emergency lights and siren were activated. Speed and impairment played no role in the crash, the Sheriff's Office said. No damage estimate was given.

The investigation is continuing.


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