FLORIDA — A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle was struck by an impaired driver early Tuesday morning.
Just before 1 a.m. on August 18, a marked HCSO Dodge Charger was being used to block traffic on the inside lane of Nebraska Avenue, just south of Bearss Avenue, as deputies were assisting the Florida Highway Patrol on an unrelated traffic crash. Emergency lights and the left arrow signal were activated on the patrol vehicle as the deputy was working outside the car at the time.
An Oldsmobile Alero, driven by Donald Leon Whitfield, 29, was traveling southbound on Nebraska Avenue and failed to observe the crash ahead of him. He struck the front left side of the patrol vehicle causing minor damage to the Charger. Whitfield’s vehicle was more severely damaged and the airbag was deployed.
A one-year-old child was riding in a car seat in the back of Whitfield’s vehicle at the time of the crash. The child was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital-Main by EMS to be evaluated as a precaution. The child did not appear to suffer any injuries as a result of the crash.
Whitfield, who showed signs of impairment, was arrested for DUI. His breath sample indicated a .171 BAC. Whitfield is facing charges of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) accompanied by a person under the age of 18, DUI with property damage or personal injury (second conviction), driving with a suspended license, violation of probation (prior DUI) and child neglect. Deputies contacted the Florida Abuse Hotline.
“This driver’s irresponsible decision to drive intoxicated not only put the lives of our deputies and other drivers at risk but also the life of an innocent young child,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “What’s worse is that his prior arrest for DUI shows he has made these poor choices in the past. I am thankful that no one was injured and that we were able to take Donald Whitfield off of the streets and put him in jail where he can no longer get behind the wheel of a vehicle.”