A Citrus County Sheriff’s deputy who crashed his patrol car into a utility pole Monday night was declared at fault by the Florida Highway Patrol but not cited.
The FHP report also contradicts the sheriff’s office statement Monday night that the Inverness crash occurred when the deputy was on his way to work when he went off the road to avoid colliding with an approaching SUV that was in his lane of traffic.
The SUV driver did not stop. The FHP report states it did not cite Deputy Nick Erdman because of the “unknown contributing factors of the SUV.”
But the FHP concluded Erdman was driving carelessly.
“... The crash was from improperly negotiating the curve in the roadway,” the report states.
For Erdman, on the job with the sheriff's office for under a year, it was his second crash involving a patrol car. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Lee Carey said Tuesday evening that Erdman was involved in a minor parking lot crash on duty in the same patrol car about two months ago, though he did not have details.
According to the FHP report, this is what happened:
Erdman was driving his marked patrol vehicle south on East Gospel Island Road near Juniper Way. As he approached the right curve, the vehicle went into the right shoulder of the road. Erdman over-corrected the steering and the car began to turn clockwise crossing the width of the road to the other shoulder, where it struck a power pole and phone box.
A witness told officers a blue SUV was traveling in front of him at normal speed. The witness said the SUV started to the straddle both lanes as it headed around the curve, but veered back into its lane as the deputy was “approaching from a distance,” the report states.
Erdman “was alleged to be approaching at a high rate of speed and traveled straight off the roadway when it passed the SUV,” the report states.
Erdman, who has been with the sheriff’s office for under a year, received minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Citrus Memorial Hospital for treatment.
The report states there was no suspected alcohol or drug use on the deputy’s part, and an alcohol/drug test was not administered.
That’s routine, FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.
“If the officer thinks there is alcohol involved, then field testing would take place after the crash investigation concludes,” Gaskins, the FHP spokesman, said in an email response to a Chronicle reporter’s questions.
The patrol car, which was towed away, sustained about $10,000 in damage, the report states.
Carey said Erdman is not being disciplined for Monday's crash. However, he said, he will face an accident review board, which can recommend discipline ranging from losing the take-home vehicle privilege to something more serious.