Hit-and-run driver accused of slamming into train, state trooper

Special to the News Herald
Walton Sun

PANAMA CITY — A Gulf Breeze woman was arrested after she struck a train and a state trooper, then led authorities on a vehicle chase into Panama City Saturday morning, lawmen say.

According to a Saturday press release, Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrested Susan Blair Case, 68, of Gulf Breeze, for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and attempting to elude, and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage.

Trooper Darryl Sawyer, who was allegedly struck by Case’s vehicle during the incident, was treated for minor injuries.

The press release said that at 7:39 a.m. troopers responded to a BOLO (be on the lookout) call from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office for a white Lincoln SUV that was involved in multiple hit-and-run crashes in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

The Lincoln, driven by Case, was last seen eastbound on U.S. Highway 98 toward Bay County at a high rate of speed.

Trooper Sawyer was turning onto U.S. 98 at Cauley Road when he saw a white Lincoln SUV traveling east on U.S. 98.

As Sawyer attempted to overtake and intercept the Lincoln, he observed the SUV being driven in a reckless manner, weaving in and out of traffic and passing on the shoulder. The Lincoln continued eastbound onto Hathaway Bridge at a high rate of speed.

The driver of the Lincoln slowed as it approached and then began to pass traffic stopped for the Bay Line train, crossing U.S. 98 at 23rd Street, between Gulf Coast State College and the Port of Panama.

The Lincoln collided with the train.

Sawyer attempted to assist the driver from the vehicle, however, the driver placed the Lincoln in reverse and fled at a high rate of speed, striking Sawyer and his patrol car.

The driver of the SUV fled in a northerly direction on the railroad right-of-way, between the moving train and concrete barriers, and then eastbound onto 23rd Street.

Sawyer and Trooper Jay Henson pursued the damaged Lincoln at speeds of approximately 30 miles per hour until it became disabled on 23rd Street at Airport Road.

Troopers then arrested Case, who was subsequently taken to Gulf Coast Medical Center.