After crashing into a paraplegic man who was riding a modified hand-pedal bicycle on Jan. 4, in Palm Coast, a driver was arrested for feeling the scene — and later for possession of drugs — according to a report from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.
The paraplegic man, Stephen Watkins, is employed by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office as a communications specialist. In 2016, he contracted a life-threatening staph infection while serving as a detention deputy with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. He received generous donations from the community and was hired as a communications specialist by Sheriff Rick Staly.
Watkins, who is unable to feel pain in his lower extremities because of his disability, sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital to be evaluated, out of precaution.
“Fleeing the scene of an accident is cowardly and illegal," Staly said in a press release. "In this case, the victim was a paralyzed man and a beloved member of the community and our team that was struck and left in the roadway. I commend the witnesses that stopped and called for help and the team effort that caught this pathetic driver. I’m also glad that Stephen was not seriously hurt, and I’m happy to say these two cowards are now locked up at the Green Roof Inn, and their poison confiscated.”
The incident began on Jan. 4, 2024, at approximately 5:54 p.m., when Watkins was riding his hand-pedal bicycle in the area of Sesame Boulevard, as far in the right lane as possible, when he was struck by a red Ford hatchback that fled the scene.
While the vehicle was traveling southbound, it struck Watkins in the rear of his hand-cycle with the bottom of its front-right bumper, causing him to spin into the lane. The driver failed to stop and remain at the scene of the crash as required by Florida law. Witnesses described the driver as a white male and provided a partial Florida tag number, according to the FCSO press release.
Deputies later located the driver, Andrew Croswell, 35, of Palm Coast. At a traffic stop at 11:40 p.m., Croswell admitted to having hit the bicycle, but claimed he did not think he hit a person so he continued driving. The vehicle had damage consistent with the earlier crash.
During the traffic stop, Croswell this time was the passenger, riding with driver Clara Smith, 48.
Cmdr. Brian Finn located a crystal-like substance in Smith’s purse. Crosswell was found to be in possession of the same substance, both of which tested positive for methamphetamine. Croswell was arrested for Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Injury, Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia. Smith was arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia.
During the booking process, Crosswell was found to have concealed additional Methamphetamine on his body and was also arrested for Introduction of Contraband into an Inmate Facility.