Police officer uses patrol car to stop wrong-way driver in Downtown St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg police have seen a recent increase in deadly crashes and on Monday, they said there could have been another one had it not been for the quick thinking of one officer to stop a wrong-way driver.

It happened just before noon in downtown St. Pete, a wrong-way driver cruised down 1st Ave South and MLK, right by Tropicana Field, and continued down the road.

"You never really know what you're going to do, until you're faced with a situation like that," said SPPD Major Matthew McKinney.

READ: St. Pete launches program aimed at preventing 'vicious cycle' of teen crime

McKinney said traffic Sgt. Michael Schade tried to pull the car over, but the driver ignored the red and blue lights and kept going, straight into traffic, facing 3 lanes of cars, head-on.

"There was going to be a pretty serious crash if he didn't do something," said McKinney.

That's when he said Schade took action, using his patrol unit to push the car off the road and into a vacant lot. The car crashed through a fence. The driver and Schade were both uninjured.

"He really put himself in harm's way because he really ran the risk of being involved in a head-on collision with the other vehicles," said McKinney.

St. Pete police have seen an uptick in deadly crashes recently, with four in just the last week. McKinney told us this year they've had 18 deadly crashes, compared to 12 at the same time last year.

McKinney praised Schade’s quick actions that may have very well prevented another one on Monday.

READ: PHOTOS: Driver accused of crashing into police cruiser on Courtney Campbell Causeway charged with DUI

"It really could have been something that could have ended in, one, 2 or 3 fatalities and even, potentially the fatality of Sgt. Schade," said McKinney.

Police arrested the 49-year-old driver, Shawn Michael Schmidhuber, at the scene. He's charged with driving under the influence and fleeing from a police officer.

SIGN UP: Click here to sign up for the FOX 13 daily newsletter