LAKELAND — Sheriff’s deputies are used to responding to car accidents, including severe ones. But as January closed out, a deputy with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office found himself the victim of a crash — involving a wrong way driver.
The woman driving the wrong way was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence, and one of the deputies in the car was injured and taken to the nearest hospital.
“In a crash like this, we are so grateful that the injuries sustained by our deputies are not more serious,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd responded afterwards.
What Happened At This Crash Scene?
Of the two officers in the vehicle, Deputy Sheriff Trainee Eric Roberts, 37, who has been with the agency for 3 months, received no significant injuries other than “soreness,” noted Scott Wilder, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
However, Deputy Sheriff Brittney Black, 25, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 3 years, was transported to the hospital, Wilder noted in his report, with head and facial injuries, including a compound nose fracture, a possible concussion, an injured arm, and soreness.
“I ask for prayers for Deputy Black as she continues to be treated in the hospital—it will take some time for her to recover,” Judd said. “We cannot say this too often: if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, don’t drive. Don’t let others drive under the influence. I can assure you, we will hold this drunk driver accountable for her actions.”
It happened at 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, when a driver later identified as India Williams, 46, of Lakeland drove northbound into the southbound lane of Combee Road, hitting that Polk County patrol car head on. Williams was medically examined at the scene, then arrested for DUI and booked into the Polk County Jail.
The two deputies were transported to the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Roberts, who had been driving the patrol car, was treated and released. Black is listed in stable condition.
How Did The Accident Happen?
According to Wilder’s report, two Polk County patrol cars were driving southbound on Combee Road after completing a traffic crash investigation, and neither vehicle was being operated in emergency mode or enroute to a call for service.
“According to interviews and evidence gathered at the scene, the deputy driving the first patrol car observed a red Chevrolet pick-up truck, traveling north on Combee Road, crossing the center line into the southbound lane,” Wilder noted. “He took evasive action, swerving into a parking lot to avoid a collision. The pick-up then collided with the patrol car operated by Deputy Roberts in a head-on type collision.”
The deputy in the first patrol car notified PCSO dispatch of the crash and began assisting the victims as Polk County Fire EMS and PCSO investigators responded to the crash.
“A third vehicle that was following the patrol car involved in the crash, swerved to avoid the collision, and left the roadway and ended up in a ditch,” Wilder noted. “That driver was uninjured. There were no apparent injuries to anyone other than the two deputies.”
Roberts had been able to get out of the patrol car on his own, while Black “was initially unconscious and she was pulled out of the patrol car,” Wilder reported. “All those involved in the crash were wearing seatbelts. Both vehicles involved in the collision were disabled and towed from the scene.”
Williams was arrested for driving under the influence. At the Polk County Jail, two breath samples revealed a 0.145 and 0.151 BAC (blood alcohol content), Wilder noted, while adding that her criminal history includes 8 previous felony charges and 9 misdemeanor charges including:
- Possession of cocaine with intent to sell
- Sale of cocaine
- Battery domestic violence
- Failure to appear in court
- Fleeing to elude at high speed
- Possession of cannabis with intent to sell
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Resisting a law enforcement officer without violence.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.