LAKE WALES, Fla. - Jose Antonio Cuevas, of Fort Myers, was cited for careless driving and texting and driving after police say he crashed into a Lake Wales police cruiser Tuesday night.
According to the Lake Wales Police Department, Officer Jacob Raines stopped to help a stranded motorist whose car was stuck in a ditch along Highway 27, south of Thompson Nursery Road shortly before 9 p.m.
Police say Officer Raines was blocking part of the roadway with his emergency lights activated as he and others worked to get the vehicle out of the ditch.
Officer Raines said he saw Cuevas traveling northbound in the outside lane and he did not appear to be slowing or moving over to go around his patrol car. He said he tried to warn Cuevas by waving his flashlight, but it didn’t work and Cuevas crashed into the police cruiser.
Post-impact, the patrol car spun around in the road while the momentum of the other vehicle made it continue traveling forward, striking a 2003 Ford Mustang, knocking one man to the ground and striking a child in the hand. The cars hit other bystanders as well, but they didn’t suffer any injuries.
According to LWPD, Officer Raines was standing in front of his patrol car moments before the crash and his body worn camera captured the crash on video.
"Had Officer Raines still been in front of his patrol car at the time of the crash this story would have ended much differently," explained Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez. "This was an avoidable crash caused by distracted driving and not moving over when emergency vehicles were present."
The crash totaled the police cruiser.