Home News Florida Sheriff gets clipped by a distracted driver, injured while biking

Florida Sheriff gets clipped by a distracted driver, injured while biking

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Katie Kustura

The Daytona Beach News-Journal

The motorist arrested for striking a bicycling Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood on Thursday told police she was using her cellphone to shop at the time of the mishap.

“She says she was shopping on Amazon on her phone when she hit me,” Chitwood said in a social media post. “Please let this be a warning to put your phones down while you’re driving before you kill someone.”

Paige Bergman, 20, was taken into custody just after 1 a.m. Friday and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury, court records show. She was released from the Volusia County Branch Jail shortly before 10 a.m. Friday after posting $2,500 bail.

Volusia County sheriff’s deputies assisted Port Orange police in gathering information on the vehicle that struck Chitwood, which was caught on a Waste Pro truck’s dash camera video.

The sheriff was riding his bicycle in Port Orange in the 1600 block of Town West Boulevard at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday when a maroon-colored Hyundai Sonata veered into him, Port Orange police said.

The Waste Pro truck’s video shows the Sonata taking off while Chitwood writhed in pain in the grassy shoulder of the road.

Chitwood was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center in Port Orange where he received 10 stitches. He said he also suffered road rash and a broken left fibula that doctors are hoping can heal on its own without a cast.

Body camera video shows a deputy directing Bergman and a man to place their hands on the back of the Sonata, which was found at a home in the 3200 block of Sardinia Terrace in Deltona. The deputy goes to the passenger side of the vehicle and confirms that it’s missing a side view mirror, which was found at the scene after hitting Chitwood.

The deputy informed Bergman’s grandparents that they’re conducting a crash investigation involving their granddaughter’s vehicle.

As the deputy approached the grandfather, Bergman can be heard in the background saying she hit a mailbox earlier in the day.

“Was somebody standing next to it?” the grandfather asks the deputy.

“She did not hit a mailbox. Do you wanna know what she hit?” the deputy asks. ” Mike Chitwood, the sheriff.”

As her grandmother gasps in the background, Bergman’s grandfather asks if the sheriff was on a bike at the time, which the deputy confirmed.

Chitwood wasn’t far from his residence when Bergman’s car struck him.

“I got hit hard from the rear,” Chitwood said Thursday night. “I go flying off the bike and all I could tell you was it was a burgundy-colored car, because the mirror was impaled in my back.”

The first two people who crossed his mind were Frank Scofield and Shawn Bradley.

Scofield was a senior deputy with the sheriff’s office when he was riding his bicycle in June 2019 in the Samsula-Spruce Creek area and was fatally struck by a vehicle that failed to stop at an intersection. Chitwood, who also was riding that day, even pedaled past Scofield at one point.

Bradley, a former NBA center for the Dallas Mavericks, was left paralyzed after suffering a traumatic spinal cord injury when a car struck him from behind while he was riding his bicycle in Utah. The wreck occurred on Jan. 20, but details of Bradley’s condition were just released Wednesday.

Chitwood took to social media Friday morning to highlight those who helped him.

“To Allen Ramos, the WastePro truck driver who witnessed the crash, got it on video and pulled over to give me a hand: I will never forget what you did for me. There were several others who pulled over to help, too, and I appreciate each and every one of you,” Chitwood said.

The sheriff also said he now knows the hit wasn’t intentional.

“That’s what a lot of distracted drivers say after they cause a tragedy,” Chitwood said. “Just imagine if that had been a child or an elderly person on that bike, or if the car drifted a couple more inches to the right.”

Not the first time

This is the second time Chitwood, an avid cyclist, has been struck by a vehicle while riding his bike.

He suffered two cracked vertebrae and a broken left hand after he was struck by a pickup while riding in Ponce Inlet in September 2017.

The driver in that crash stayed at the scene and was cited for failure to yield after being found at fault.

During Bike Week in 2013, Chitwood was greeting people while patrolling Main Street as the police chief in Daytona Beach.

A man, later determined to be Michael Dangelo, started criticizing police, saying he had the right to kill them. Dangelo spat on Chitwood, and while Chitwood was trying to take him into custody, Dangelo bit Chitwood’s right index finger.

After punching Dangelo in an attempt to get him to let go, Chitwood suffered a broken left hand.

Dangelo was sentenced later that year to five years in prison to be followed by 10 years’ probation.

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