BRADENTON, Fla. - Newly-released video and audio shows Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse after crashing his truck into a tree in his gated community in Bradenton.
Deputies started investigating after the crash that happened April 20, 2022.
Body camera video from the responding Manatee County sheriff's deputy and audio from Kruse's conversations with dispatchers shows a badly damaged vehicle and Kruse appearing to be in an altered mental state.
After the video was released May 5, Kruse spoke to FOX 13's Kimberly Kuizon and said, in part, "I haven’t seen whatever you guys have seen. The stuff hasn’t been released to me. This is under investigation."
The crash happened just after 7:30 p.m. on Greyhawk Boulevard. Body camera video shows Kruse's white pickup truck smashed head-on into a tree on the side of the roadway.
At the time the deputy arrives, Kruse is sitting inside an SUV parked on the roadway ahead of the truck and Kruse's wife comes out to speak to the deputy first.
Audio, video of crash investigation released
Audio from Kruse's vehicle's crash notification system reveals that Kruse's wife was on the scene almost immediately after the crash.
Dispatcher 1: Hello this is 911 we got an automatic crash notification, is everything OK?
Kruse: Yeah, everything’s OK.
Dispatcher 1: Was there an accident or was it a faulty notification?
Kruse: No, it’s that someone swerved in front of me and I swerved out and it’s something but I’m OK.
Dispatcher 1: Are there any injuries?
Kruse: No, I’m fine?
Dispatcher 1: Any fuel or fire hazards?
Kruse: No, I’m fine.
Dispatcher 1: OK where did this occur at, so I can get law enforcement started for you?... Hello?... Hello?... Are you still there, sir?... Hello?... Sir, are you still there?
A few moments later, a woman’s voice can be heard. She later identifies herself as Jessica Kruse.
Woman: Get in my car… Babe, hey, hey, hey, hey… Are you OK?... I need you to get in my car. I need you to get in my car right now.
Dispatcher 2: Sheriff's office.
Woman: Hi, um, we're good. We're good. I’m so sorry.
Dispatcher 2: Where is the vehicle located?
Woman: Hey, we're good. I'm so sorry. There was a little fender bender, um… We're OK… We're OK. Thank you.
Dispatcher 2: No, we are sending a car out, we need to know the location.
Woman: Oh, no, no, that's OK. We're totally good.
Dispatcher 2: who am I speaking with?
Woman: Um, this is Jessica Kruse… We are so good.
During the calls, an unintelligible male voice can be heard, sometimes apparently moaning.
After the crash
The deputy's body camera shows his interview with Kruse. He approached Kruse, who was sitting in the back seat of a parked SUV. His wife got into the vehicle next to her husband.
The deputy asked Kruse what happened.
"I was comin’ through the gate and somebody cut me off and blew right past me and I tried to, like, hit my breaks, and curve around them, and just cut a curb," Kruse explained.
After a short chat, the deputy walks back to the crashed vehicle and calls in to dispatchers. He tells them the driver seems impaired.
The deputy later tells Kruse’s wife that her husband could go to jail for drunk driving.
"He’s obviously impaired" the deputy says to Jessica Kruse.
The deputy adds that Jessica Kruse was allegedly driving behind her husband at the time of the crash.
Kruse's wife at the scene
Mrs. Kruse begins to get upset as the deputy explains the situation. She shook her head knowingly as the deputy speaks and appears cooperative with the deputy and thanks him.
However, at the end of the interaction, the deputy says "it should just be you and your insurance company at this point."
It's unclear if the deputy was implying Kruse would not face charges for DUI.
Because Kruse was not inside the crashed truck when the deputy arrived, the deputy's report states it was not obvious that Kruse was not "in active physical control of the vehicle at the time of the crash."
However, the report then states that the deputy became aware of the 911 call audio the next day.
After listening to the audio, the deputy says it "would lead a reasonable person to surmise" that Kruse was driving the vehicle when it crashed and was under the influence of an "unknown substance."
A field sobriety test was not performed, according to records released May 5.
"With this new information a capias request will be sent to the State's Attorney's Office for review," the report concludes.
Kruse, sheriff's office respond
Kruse told FOX 13, "The sheriff’s department does an excellent job. I respect what the sheriff’s department does. It’s being passed to Ed Brodsky and the State Attorney’s Office. I respect what he does. Both of them are going to do their job. I will not interfere with their investigation. Whatever their outcome is, is what we will deal with at that point in time, but I will not opine or speak to a legal investigation at this stage. It’s just not in my best interest, and honestly it’s not in their best interest because I want them to be able to do their diligence and their investigation without all the distraction. That’s about the extent of what I will stay on it. I trust Sheriff Wells. I trust State Attorney Brodsky to do a proper job. A fair job and we will move forward when they’ve completed their investigation."
The sheriff's office said in an email to FOX 13 News, "The traffic crash investigation involving George Kruse is now closed. The case is no longer considered 'active' and therefore it is not necessary for us to continue extensive redaction of records in this case. All evidence is in the hands of the State Attorney. The SAO will determine if formal charges will be filed."
Included was a statement from Sheriff Rick Wells:
"Review of this traffic crash revealed additional evidence that was not available on the evening of April 20th… It was important for us to examine this additional evidence and determine who was in physical control of the vehicle when the crash occurred, and to what extent the driver was impaired."
This article has been updated to reflect the crash happened on April 20, 2022, at 7:30 p.m.