Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Pinellas Deputy suspended following high speed crash seriously injuring a bicyclist

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Deputy Jared Toro of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was suspended for 112 hours for his role in a crash that seriously injured a bicyclist.  The findings were released on October 19, 2020, seven months following the March 22, 2020 crash.

The crash occurred at approximately 9:03 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at the intersection of Gulf to Bay Boulevard and Hampton Road in Clearwater.

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Video from scene of crash

Deputies assigned to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) responded to the scene and investigated the incident.

Investigators say Deputy Toro, who was on-duty and operating his fully marked 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe, was traveling westbound on Gulf to Bay Boulevard and responding to assist another deputy on a traffic stop.

Steven Greninger, age 62 of Gardiner, Montana was attempting to cross from south to north on Gulf to Bay Boulevard at Hampton Road on a bicycle.

According to the preliminary report, investigators say that Greninger was struck as Deputy Toro approached the green light at Hampton Road despite his attempt to swerve and avoid Greninger.  The right front corner of the Tahoe collided with the rear tire of Greninger’s bicycle.

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Investigators said that Greninger sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for treatment.

Deputy Toro was not injured and refused medical treatment on scene.

Deputy Toro was found to have violated multiple rules, regulations and operating policies of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office according to the October 19th release from the Professional Standards Bureau.  The information below has been obtained from that release.

The Vehicle Crash Review Board determined the crash was preventable, and that Deputy Toro’s speed and the manner he was operating his agency vehicle contributed to this crash.

Approximately five minutes before this crash, while on-duty and assigned to work in the City of Safety Harbor, Deputy Toro received a group text message from a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper who was requesting non-urgent assistance at US Highway 19 near Drew Street in the City of Clearwater.

This group text message from the Trooper was sent to, and received by Deputy Toro via a text messaging application on an agency issued laptop. This method of communication is an unauthorized communication system for law enforcement business.

The Trooper indicated he had stopped a vehicle whose driver was suspected of being impaired and to facilitate the administration of field sobriety tests (FST), the Trooper was asking for an item to draw a line on the ground, similar to a chalk line, for conducting a portion of the FST.

During witness testimony provided by the Trooper, the request was specifically for the item to create the FST chalk line, the request was non-urgent, and there was no other assistance needed.

At approximately 8:58 p.m., Toro replied to the Trooper that he had the item to create the FST chalk line and would assist him.  As he drove to the Trooper, his driving actions were video and audio recorded by the vehicle’s digital recorder. The data determined he traveled at excessive speeds, at times over twice that of the posted speed limit. There were no lawful reasons or explanations to justify the manner in which he was driving. He traveled east on Enterprise Road, reaching speeds of ninety (90) miles per hour in the posted forty (40) miles per hour speed zone.

At McMullen Booth Road, he turned south and traveled at a high speed, reaching one hundred three (103) miles per hour in the posted forty-five (45) miles per hour speed zone. At Gulf to Bay Boulevard, he turned west, traveling at speeds that reached eighty four (84) miles per hour in the posted forty-five (45) miles per hour speed zone.

As he approached the intersection of Hampton Road from the east, the traffic signal for his direction of travel was illuminated green. In a marked crosswalk, a bicyclist who was traveling north across Gulf to Bay Boulevard entered into the path of travel. Although Toro took evasive action by braking and swerving, the right-front of his vehicle struck the bicyclist.

Toro stopped his vehicle, requested fire rescue to respond, and made contact with the bicyclist, assessing his condition.
Responding paramedics determined the bicyclist sustained serious injuries during the collision. The bicyclist was categorized as a Trauma Alert and transported by ambulance to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

The Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) was activated to investigate this crash. The MAIT Investigation determined the vehicle’s speed before the crash was eighty-four (84) miles per hour, and at the time of the crash, his vehicle’s estimated speed was seventy (70) miles per hour. The posted speed limit at the crash scene is forty-five (45) miles per hour.

From the moment he began to travel to the Trooper’s location until after the crash, Toro’s emergency lights (without use of the siren) were activated two (2) times. The first for a total of six (6) seconds to clear the intersection of McMullen Booth Road and State Road 590, and the second for a total of four (4) seconds to clear the intersection of McMullen Booth Road and Drew Street.

Toro failed to follow policy as under normal, non-emergency operating conditions and while responding to routine calls for assistance, members operating Sheriffs Office vehicles shall not utilize emergency equipment and will adhere to all traffic laws and drive in a safe, courteous and defensive manner.

At the time Toro received the Trooper’s message requesting assistance, he was outside of his assigned area and in the vicinity of US 19 and Enterprise Road in the City of Clearwater. He was not conducting any agency related business while outside of his assigned area.

According to the memorandum, supervisors had spoken to him on more than one occasion, before the date of this crash, about not leaving the city without informing them.

There is also previous written supervisory documentation in his performance evaluation stating the same. On the evening of this crash, he did not notify any supervisor that he would be away from the city of Safety Harbor.

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