POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – After a traffic crash on I-4 on Friday night, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has one word to describe Deputy Juan Sanchez: lucky.
“The deputy was treated and released from the hospital,” said Sheriff Judd. “It was just a blessing all the way around. “
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the accident and released a dashcam video of the impact. Deputy Sanchez’s patrol car was parked behind a trooper’s cruiser.
Both patrol cars had their lights on, Deputy Sanchez was trying to leave the scene when he pulled into traffic and was hit by a tractor-trailer. The impact drove the deputy’s cruiser into the trooper’s car and then into the grass. It grazed one of the other motorists who were on the side of the road.
“We are fortunate that we don’t have a lot of dead folks as a result of that crash,” said Judd.
According to Florida’s move over law, that truck driver should have either moved over a lane of traffic, or slowed his speed down by 20 miles per hour. Sgt. Steve Gaskins, with the highway patrol, says charges in this case are pending.
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department, the projected numbers in 2020 are 159 crashes were the result of drivers not obeying the move over law. Law enforcement officers also issued some 12,000 citations last year.
Tow truck driver Maurice McLeish says that is no surprise.
“Most of these drivers, cell phone distractions, music in their cars, whatever the distraction is, they see the light and just keep going,” said McLeish, who owns Maurice’s Auto Repair and Towing in Lakeland. “The law says you’re supposed to slow down and move over, but I’ve been out there myself where you can teel the wind just trying to suck you right into the road.”
Sheriff Judd says he wishes people would simply slow down and pay attention to their surroundings.
“A car is a 4 thousand, 5 thousand, 6 thousand pound bullet and you are barrelling down the road at whatever speed and it’s like walking around with a loaded gun,” said Sheriff Judd. “If you’re not careful it will go off the most inopportune time and hurt someone. “