Back on Dec 18th 2016, there was an accident in Riverview on Garden drive where 2 off duty deputies hit a power pole. Some have brought it to my attention and asked why it was kept to quiet. Personally, I didn’t know anything about it so I requested all Accident/Incident reports from the Wauchula Police, Hardee Sheriff’s Dept and the City of Wauchula. The question I was asked was, “Do you think it was a cover up”. Anything is possible. Normally if there’s an accident, especially if the driver was drunk, it’s reported to the local paper and we all read about it. So, was this accident a cover up? Was there alcohol involved? Why wasn’t the Herald Advocate Notified? Sometimes it’s hard to cover up booboo’s. For example the accident on West Main and Riverview where a deputy lost control in wet weather and clipped the pole leaving the patrol car on it’s side. Was kinda hard not to miss that one.
After reading the Internal Investigations completed by the Sheriff’s office, there is a lot of suspicious things that makes one tend to believe that in fact, it was a cover up. There is no proof of either Deputy being under the influence. Or was there? Here’s how I see the Investigation. You too can follow along, read the reports and make your own judgement.
Before I start there are a few questions I want to ask. I’m sure you all know the answers as most of us have at one time or another drove while drinking. So, Lets say you have had a few drinks and you get pulled over. What’s a few things you do.
1-Spray on the Body Spray, cologne or perfume
2-GUM, chew that gum or even Mints.
3-Smoke like it’s the end of the world. lol (guilty)
Now remember these 3 points. They are EXTREMELY important. Below are links to Interviews, reports etc. Read through them all.
Links to files:
5-Interview with Corporal Paul Johnson
6-Interview with Deputy Jimmie Goins
7-Interview with Lt. Rosie Wendell
8-Interview with Shelby Merritt – Hardee Fire Rescue
9-Interview with Bob Devereaux – Hardee Fire Rescue
10-Interview with Ken Fritz – Hardee Fire Rescue
11-Interview with William Reschke – Hardee Fire Rescue
12-Interview with Patrick Conklin – Hardee Fire Rescue
Accident Report by Deputy Cruz
City Work Order and Insurance Payment for Pole
Internal Investigation Findings 2016-12-001
So from all this we know that on Dec 18th 2016 at about 23:20 there was an accident involving 2 off duty deputies, a car and a power pole on Garden Drive. Here are a few things I find real odd.
First Deputy on scene (Clark) put Victoria in the back seat of her patrol car. When Deputies were asked in the Interviews if Victoria had been drinking, here are their answers. Only ONE deputy can honestly say Victoria wasn’t drinking…..
Clark – “No sir, I’ve had a cold for two weeks so I definitely can’t smell anything”
White – “The only thing I smelled was her Perfume and Gum”
Cruz – “I didn’t smell anything weird other than the fact that Lake was smoking and Victoria was chewing on gum”
Johnson – “I was not close enough to either one of them to smell anything”
Goins – When asked if they were under the influence, Goins responded, “No sir”. Then stated he didn’t talk to either Michael or Victoria
Wendell – “Made it a point, uh, to get close and no I did not”
Lets move on the Hardee County Fire Rescue. Same question asked. Here are their answers.
Merritt -“Um, I did not smell anything, I can’t really smell, I’ve been sick” When asked if Merritt checked her eyes, her response is, “Nah, uh we didn’t do that, we didn’t check her”
Devereaux -“Like I said, it could have been cologne, it could’ve been, it smelled like a beer, when I first drove up, but there was people standing along side of the road”
Fritz- “I didn’t but I wouldn’t have been, I was close enough” “Like I said, we were a good distance”
Reschke- “All I could smell was cologne, I could not, could not smell any alcohol”
Conklin- “He seemed very agitated that this was involved, that this happened, um, he seemed more like angry about it, which I can understand being in a crash, I don’t, about him seeming like there’s alcohol involved” “But I never even got, I never even got close to the car” “No, I didn’t do any patient care for her at all”
Hummmm…..COLOGNE-PERFUME-SMOKING-GUM. Any signs of drinking? Seriously, Victoria was put in Clark’s patrol car before anyone arrived and stayed there. NO ONE can honestly verify she was drinking or not. She was never field checked. At one point, Deputy Clark turns up the radio in the patrol car and her mic is turned off. Which she was reprimanded for btw. There is really just too much here that says this was a cover up. I’m dumbfounded as to some of the answers in the Interviews. But, it’s Hardee County I guess.
Oh and in the end there was almost 4 grand in damage to the Pole. Victoria and Michael even admitted to SPEEDING, yet NO TICKETS were issued. I’m not going further into this, but would like everyone to read all the Interviews and then give me your opinion.
PS: Shiver, Your techniques in the Interview process are rather well done. But focus more on Interrogation, which is good and bad. In this case you asked the right questions to get the answers you wanted and needed to hear. But at times you didn’t actually get the response that was intended, for Instance, when you asked Deputy Clark if she thought Alcohol was involved. You asked multiple times, which is a great for Depositions. But in this case, the answers will hurt in court. Example:
Shiver- “And did you see, hear or smell anything that would indicate that either Victoria or Michael was under the influence of alcohol that night?”
Clark- “No Sir, I’ve had a cold for two weeks so I definitely can’t smell anything”
Shiver- “Uh, but you didn’t smell any alcohol on her?”
Clark- “No Sir”
Shiver- “Did you see or smell anything on him?”
Clark-“No Sir, the only thing I could smell was smoke, cause he smokes all the time”
See what I mean. Deputy Clark’s testimony will NOT hold up in court….This entire Incident and even the IA is a joke. So many flaws in statements, so many things that DIDN’T happen that should have. Now, if it was me that hit the pole, You would see my mugshot on mugshots.com, I’d been UNDER the jail. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, read, think and comment your opinions.
Since this was released, Citizens have come forward about this accident. Word is that Victoria wasn’t the one driving the car. They said it was Michael. Which knowing that things make sense. Like Michael being pissed off at the scene. Deputy Rosie Wendell even stated that Michael was drinking earlier but because he wasn’t driving, it was no issue. Which makes me believe this in fact is a cover up. If I am wrong in thinking Victoria was drinking and at fault, when in fact it was Michael, maybe Michael should come forward and admit to his mistake. After all, if this is what happened, Victoria is taking a lot of blame for nothing.