MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Highway Patrol has confirmed that a trooper was struck by an alleged drunk driver, causing injuries.
The trooper has been identified as Daniel A. Cruz.
Trooper Cruz was on scene conducting an investigation on a traffic crash between a white Hyundai Elantra and a silver Kia SUV on the northbound lanes of Okeechobee Road at the intersection of the Palmetto Expressway south exit ramp.
That’s when John Bencosme, who was driving a blue Hyundai Velastar, allegedly came upon the scene.
Bencosme, 26, failed to observe the traffic crash ahead and struck the rear of the Elantra, authorities said.
The force of that collision caused the Elantra to rotate clockwise and strike the KIA, which then struck Trooper Cruz and threw him across the road.
Cruz was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center with serious bodily injuries.
“Our roads have gotten to a point where troopers are more scared to be hit by a car than be shot out there while they’re performing their duty,” Joe Sanchez with the Florida Highway Patrol. “That’s when we emphasize telling people that when you see us out there on the road, follow the move over law, reduce your speed, move over, because we’re out there providing a service.”
Officers on scene detained Bencosme and noticed a smell of alcohol emitting from him, they said. Based on the smell and his actions, officers conducted a field sobriety test on Bencosme and a voluntary blood sample was collected.
He was placed under arrest for DUI.
Following the arrest, Bencosme consented to a breath sample test and he blew a blood alcohol concentration of .201 percent followed by a BAC of .190 three minutes later.
The State of Florida prohibits driving any type of vehicle with a BAC level of .08 or higher.
Authorities were informed by medical staff that Trooper Cruz was in stable condition.
He suffered a broken bone in his lower back and injuries to his ACL and PCL, which will require reconstructive surgery.
Bencosme was charged with one count of DUI, two counts of DUI with property damage and one count of DUI with serious bodily injury. He bonded out of jail on Sunday.