Published on Saturday, February 18, 2006
in the Tampa Tribune
LAKE PLACID - Florida Highway Patrol trooper Adam M. Heinlein, 33, said Friday he is lucky to be alive after a tractor-trailer traveling about 65 miles per hour south of State Road 70 on U.S. 27 smashed the door of his cruiser Thursday afternoon.
The driver of the 1991 Freightliner that hit the troopers car is Matthew Ryan Bledsoe, 25, of Dayton, Texas. He reported that he dropped a cigarette and was looking for it when he veered off of the roadway at about1:29 p.m. Thursday, eight miles south of Lake Placid.
Bledsoe, who was heading north, never saw the troopers vehicle or flashing lights, said Sgt. Dan Hinton, who is Heinleins supervisor.
I escaped death, narrowly, Heinlein said.
Ironically, trooper Heinlein was issuing a warning to trucker Marco Antonio Escobar, 34, of Immokalee, for following too close, when the impact occurred, said Hinton.
Escobar was standing near the right front fender of the parked patrol car and received cuts on his neck from flying glass. He was transported to Florida Hospital Lake Placid with minor injuries.
Heinlein was in the drivers seat with his left foot on the ground, the door mostly closed but against his leg.
We have to do a lot of work on our laptop computer, Heinlein said.
Next thing I knew something grabbed and sliced open my leg, he said, adding he was lucky he was able to get his foot back inside. I didnt see anything until the very last nano-second.
His leg was cleaned and bandaged by Highlands County Emergency Medical Services personnel.
Bledsoe was cited on a charge of careless driving. His truck was sidelined due to faulty equipment. A post-crash commercial motor vehicle inspection conducted by trooper Michael Merrit revealed the front brake steering axle was out of adjustment and the turn signals on the trailer were inoperative.
Bledsoes drivers log hadnt had an entry for three days.
Theoretically, he could have driven to Texas twice in that time, Hinton said. The driver was put out of service for eight hours.
He needs to be in a sleeper bunk, Hinton said.
My life is not worth a cigarette burn on the carpet, Heinlein said. People need to be aware of this Move Over law.
Things could have been a lot worse.
This could have played out so much more differently, Hinton said. Im thankful of that.
It could have been a matter of feet, he added. With the trucker hitting the rear (of the troopers cruiser) at 65 mph in a 60,000-pound truck, it would have resulted in the death of trooper Heinlein and Mr. Escobar.
Floridas Move Over law requires drivers to move over away from stopped emergency vehicles where ever possible or to slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit or to five mph when the speed limit is 20 mph or less.