POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Dramatic video shows a Florida Highway Patrol trooper making a split-second decision that may have saved a Polk County deputy’s life.
The deputy was putting down stop sticks at a highway exit to catch a driver during a police chase, according to FHP. The driver lost control, careening into the grassy median between the ramps.
Video shows the vehicle was heading towards the deputy as he stands by a guardrail when a cruiser being driven by an FHP trooper crashed into the out-of-control vehicle to stop it.
No one was injured.
The driver, 20-year-old Nain Nolasco of Mulberry, and a 16-year-old boy were taken into custody at the scene.
“What you see in that video is nothing unusual for deputies, officers, and troopers anywhere. They will insert themselves into dangerous situations without hesitation for not only other law enforcement, but for anyone who is in danger. It’s what we do,” wrote Sheriff Grady Judd in a statement.
“Initially, my reaction is ‘Wow, that was extremely brave, extremely courageous, and extremely dangerous,’” said Danny Alvarez, general counsel for Tampa’s Police Benevolent Association.
Alvarez said what occurred east of Lakeland on Monday afternoon showcases the risks officers face on duty.
“Roadside dangers when you’re in law enforcement are at the top of the list that take law enforcement lives. We know it’s one of the most dangerous things you can be doing but you just can’t separate the danger from the job. It’s gotta get done,” he said.
In February, Pinellas County Deputy Michael Magli was killed by a drunken driver evading police as the officer deployed stop sticks to end the chase, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“Deputy Magli highlights the facts of what we’re talking about today and the importance of bringing attention to this fact,” said Alvarez.
The trooper’s decision to crash his vehicle on purpose was just as risky, according to Alvarez.
“I think people watch way too many movies and think that after someone crashes their car trying to save somebody else, that they’re always going to walk away. You’re looking at a video where a Florida state trooper put his life on the line to stop a dangerous situation and save the life of a fellow law enforcement officer that he probably doesn’t even know,” he said.
Nolasco is facing charges of grand theft auto, no valid driver’s license, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, child neglect, reckless driving and fleeing to elude. He also had a warrant out of Hillsborough County for burglary.
The 16-year-old passenger was charged with burglary.