PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A Florida Highway Patrol trooper is being credited with jumping into a moving car and saving a 2-year-old. Over the weekend State Trooper Paul Rawland pulled over a car traveling northbound on Interstate 75 in Pasco County. The trooper suspected the driver was intoxicated.
A road ranger, who assists disabled motorists on the interstate, had stopped to help the driver of the car change a flat tire. According to authorities, the road ranger believed the driver looked out of it. The driver got back in his car and hit a barrier several times as he drove on I-75. That is when the road ranger called the Florida Highway Patrol.
When Rawland pulled over the car, the driver immediately got out and started walking toward the trooper’s patrol car. “Once I jumped out of my vehicle, I notice that his vehicle begin to move forward, Rawland said. “That’s when I yelled out to him that his vehicle is moving forward. He was so incoherent he didn’t even realize what I was saying, so I ran past him, jumped into his vehicle, (and) stopped the vehicle. It was feet away from a ditch at that time.”
Rawland said the ditch had a steep drop off. He was concerned about the car, because he knew a little girl was inside. “When that car started rolling, that’s when I forgot about my safety and went to her safety,” said Rawland.
A camera mounted on the trooper’s dashboard recorded the events. “The safety factor is, it’s likely she’ll be injured, or possibly be killed if that vehicle had rolled over in the ditch,” said Rawland.
As he entered the car, the trooper noticed the little girl was not buckled into her car safety seat, and she didn’t appear to be moving. “It could have been much worse,” Rawland said. “Just him driving down the road and striking the barricade several times. That’s why the barricade is there, but just on that fact it could have been much worse if he continued forward. I just happen to be at the right place at the right time.”
As it turns out, the toddler was sound asleep. Rawland arrested her father, Dominic Thompson, 30, of Crystal River, for driving under the influence, possession of drugs, hit and run, and child endangerment.