PORT ORANGE, FL — An inattentive motorist who was shopping on her phone while driving hit a sheriff on his bicycle and never bothered to stop and help him.
The hit-and-run incident in central Florida was caught on a truck’s dashcam. The victim of the collision, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, survived with injuries, and the motorist was later located and arrested.
“She did not hit a mailbox," a deputy told 20-year-old Paige Bergman's family after the crash. "Do you want to know what she hit? Mike Chitwood, the sheriff."https://t.co/SWk95XIbuQ— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) March 19, 2021
According to law enforcement officials, the suspect, Paige Bergman, 20, was using her phone to shop on Amazon while driving Thursday. The footage shows the suspect’s vehicle hit Chitwood as he was riding his bicycle on the side of the road, but never stopped.
The young lady who hit me is in custody on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury. She says she was shopping on Amazon on her phone when she hit me. Please let this be a warning to put your phones down while you’re driving before you kill someone. pic.twitter.com/x1J3pISSk9— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) March 19, 2021
The collision was caught on the dashcam of a Waste Pro truck that was traveling in the same direction behind the suspect. The driver of the truck, Allen Ramos, immediately pulled over to help the bicyclist and call 911.
Chitwood’s injuries included a broken leg bone, ten stitches in his back, road rash and a headache. However, he was behind his desk at work the next day.
According to WESH 2, officers located Bergman at her home in Deltona where she could be heard on police body camera video, at first, allegedly denying any knowledge of hitting a person.
“An accident? I hit a mailbox,” Bergman said in the footage.
Chitwood told WESH 2:
“She said she hit a mailbox. Now you were out there, there’s not a mailbox within a quarter of a mile of that road. I’ve been called a lot of things and mailbox isn’t one of them.”
Investigators say Bergman later told them she was using her phone to shop at the time of the crash. She was arrested for leaving the scene of a crash that caused serious bodily harm, according to Graham Media Group.
Graham Media Group also reported that online court records show Bergman was arrested in December on domestic battery charges. A pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for April 6.
Chitwood implored people to pay attention:
“Just pull over. By fleeing and lying you make things, matters so much worse for you.”
The sheriff said he was very grateful to the truck driver and others who stopped to help and glad he wasn’t more seriously hurt because he’s lost friends in similar circumstances.
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On Friday, Chitwood wrote in a Facebook post:
“Thank you all again for your messages and kind words. I have some road rash, a few stitches on the gash from the passenger side mirror and a fractured fibula that the doctors hope will heal on its own. I consider myself lucky to be back on my feet today.
“The young lady who hit me is in custody on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury. She says she was shopping on Amazon on her phone when she hit me.
“Please let this be a warning to put your phones down while you’re driving before you kill someone.
“I know this young woman had no intention of running me down. That’s what a lot of distracted drivers say after they cause a tragedy. 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.
“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.
“To every single deputy, detective, crime analyst and Port Orange police officer who played any role in this case yesterday, you each have my sincere appreciation for an outstanding job. I am so proud of the incredible work you do every day, and this is one more example of it.”
Volusia Co. Sheriff @SheriffChitwood thanks Waste Pro driver Allen Ramos for stopping yesterday and helping him when he got hit by a car on his bike in Port Orange. @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/Socc8IPv8w— Molly Reed (@Mollyreednews) March 19, 2021
Chitwood was involved in another bicycle crash four years ago:
“I can’t explain that. I just know that I’m lucky.”
The crash in 2017 occurred in the area of Ponce Inlet, according to Graham Media Group. Chitwood suffered a broken hand and an ACL injury after he was struck by a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, officials said.
Also in 2017, Chitwood’s bicycle fell from his vehicle’s bike rack onto Interstate 95, damaging passing vehicles. No one was hurt in that incident, but three vehicles were damaged, the sheriff said.
In that incident, Chitwood said it was dark and he did not realize his bike fell off the rack until he arrived home. He said he searched for it in his neighborhood, but could not locate it.
According to Graham Media Group’s report, the sheriff called dispatch to report his bike fell off. Officials said a strap broke, causing the bike to fall off Chitwood’s Ford Taurus, which is owned by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Three active calls were made to 911 regarding the bike on the interstate that evening.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman said at the time that the sheriff would not be ticketed because the accidents were caused by a broken strap, according to Graham Media Group’s report.
At the time, Chitwood said:
“Clearly, my bike came off the bike rack, I didn’t realize it until I got home because you can’t see, but thank God nobody is hurt.”
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