When Good Samaritan Efforts Do Not Work As Intended
Dateline: June 17, 2007 on Paynes Prairie, Gainesville, Florida
It is four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and I am driving south bound on Interstate 75, heading out of Gainesville and across Paynes Prairie. I am in my 85 year old dad’s car, which I have just confiscated from him to prevent his future attempts at driving. My partner is behind me in our car. I am cruising about 80 mph and have some C&W music playing.
I look up and see blue lights flashing in the north bound median ahead of me. I instinctively take my foot off of the accelerator and check the speedometer to make sure I am traveling within ten miles per hour of the posted limit. I am. A few seconds later, I see a pick up truck overturned in the median. I look further and do not see any red lights, nor do I see any fire trucks or ambulances. I conclude that the accident is “old” and that fire rescue has already come and gone. A few seconds later, and a few thousand feet closer to the accident, I see a female state trooper existing her vehicle and starting to run toward the pick up truck. I also see a person laying face up in the median next to the truck. He is not moving. I suddenly realize that the accident has just happened.
There is no time to call my partner who is right behind me. I rapidly slow down and pull over in the break down lane and come to a sudden stop a few dozen feet before the truck. My partner, who was caught off guard by my actions, pulls over past me and stops on the side of the road, unsure of what we are going to do. I get out and run to the over turned pick up truck to see if there are any other patients in the vehicle. I am able to lay flat on my stomach and slide my body through the open drivers side window. The pickup roof has been crushed down on the passenger side and the truck cab is filled with dozens of boxes of household goods,clothes, etc. I am able to slither half way inside the cab and determine that no one else is there. I start to slowly back out of the cab in order to check on the man laying in the median. I hear the female trooper yell “STOP!” a few times and I get out of the truck just in time to see the driver trying to pull away from the trooper and they both fall to the ground wrestling. Without much hesitation (a fault I might add), I jump on top of the guy and start to pin him down. He is in his thirties, has a large build and seems to be very strong. My partner runs up and grabs the guys legs and all three of us are holding on for dear life. The man is screaming for us to not kill him, that he knows what we are doing, and uttering other seemingly paranoid words. As the trooper, my partner and I struggle with this violent guy, cars continue to slowly drive by and I can see people staring out their windows at us. I am wondering why no one else is stopping to help. Hopefully, someone is at least calling 911 to report something unusual.
I see the female trooper leaning toward the guy and she pushes her shoulder down to her hand, where she is trying to hold the guys right arm. She is able to reach up with her hand and push the button on the radio microphone that is attached to the lapel on her uniform shirt. “322 Orlando….SEND HELP”….is all she can transmit before the guy starts another violent struggling fit. Knowing how police dispatch centers work, I am comforted to know that 100 law enforcement units should be converging on us soon. We continue to struggle and roll around in the grass in the median.
I look up and see a black female in jeans and a wind breaker running toward me. I am puzzled as to whether she is a civilian bystander who is rushing over to help, or if she is a police officer. She calls out “Tampa PD” as she jumps to the ground and grabs onto the mid section of our guy. The female trooper is still unable to get her handcuffs anywhere near the guys wrists. All four of us continue to struggle. The man is not tiring at all and it seems like twenty minutes has passed by.
I hear a siren getting louder and realize that (1) I am starting to wear out, and (2) that another police officer will be here directly. A few seconds later, a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser roars up along side of us. FHP Troopers in Florida typically have that Paul Bunyon lumberjack look to them. The door opens and another female trooper climbs out. This one is five foot eight with long hair pinned behind her head and she runs into the median to help us. We are now starting to make some headway and though our struggles are not completely coordinated, we have almost gotten the guy rolled over so he will be face down on the ground and allow us to hand cuff him.
I now hear a series of sirens getting louder and louder and glance up to see four Sheriffs Office cars pulling up in the south bound lane. The first two deputies to jump out are – unfortunately – of the larger bubba variety that you might see on a Dukes of Hazard episode and are quite over weight. They run across the median to where we are struggling and arrive panting and out of breath. The scene must have looked very confusing to them. There are two troopers in uniform, a black female in a wind breaker and three white males on the ground and all are wrestling. I feel a pair of hands grab me by my shirt collar and belt and start to yank me up and the first trooper yells at the deputy, “NO YOU IDIOT HE”S HELPING ME..”. The hands release me back to the ground. We let the deputies climb in and take our places and my partner and I roll to the side. The violent man is now throwing up a green foam that we think came from some energy drink.
I do a quick “self check” and find that my jeans, shirt and hands are covered with grass stain and that I have blood stains on my hands and shirt. But, I am over wise fine.
The five police officers have the man hand cuffed and he is still screaming and struggling. Fire Rescue has arrived and a paramedic comes down to check the man for any medical emergency that might be causing his behavior. We noticed more than a dozen beer bottles had spilled into the median from the truck, but they are all sealed and unopened.
The paramedic does a quick glucose check to see if the man is a diabetic but that reading comes back normal. Since the patient will not answer any questions and is continuing to act psychoticly a decision is made to transport him to the closest hospital.
A deputy walks up and takes down our names. I thank the female from Tampa PD for stopping to help out. My partner and I get back into our cars and continue the drive home.