Florida Highway Patrol trooper involved in crash

BRADENTON -- A Florida Highway Patrol trooper suffered minor injuries after the driver of a four-door car jetted in front of his cruiser causing a crash that sent the patrol car careening into a building, according to FHP investigators.

Trooper Russell Cruz had left a court hearing at the Manatee County Judicial Center in downtown Bradenton just after 10 a.m., headed eastbound on 6th Avenue West when the crash occurred.

Investigators say as Cruz drove east on the road a Chevrolet Cavalier driven by a Bradenton woman slammed into the left side of his FHP cruiser while trying to cross 6th Avenue West from a stop sign at 8th Street West.

Witnesses said Carol C. Barrios, 59, had first tried to make a right turn west onto the one-way 6th Avenue, and tried to correct by speeding across the road, according to FHP Sgt. William Pascoe.

“It was just a bad mistake,” Pascoe said.

Cruz said he tried to avoid Barrios’ car, but could not and the collision sent him careening into the Live Oak Apartments at the corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street. The impact into the apartments crumpled the front end of the FHP vehicle, and did about $2,000 worth of damage to the small building, according to Pascoe.

The crash also ripped off the front of Barrios’ Chevrolet, but she was not injured. She declined comment as she took pictures of the damage to her car with a cell phone. Pascoe said she faces a right-of-way violation citation which carries at $166 fine. Cruz suffered minor injuries including a burn on his arm from an air bag that exploded in his patrol car. He said he will have the injury checked at the hospital.

“I got really lucky that the air bag didn’t hit me in the face,” Cruz said. “It trapped me in the car so I was hitting and kicking the door just to get out.”

Cruz, who suffered his first crash in a little less than a year on road patrol, said he is just glad the crash ended without serious injury.

“I’m just glad the other driver is OK," he said.