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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2009 6 years ago

Police spat with trolley driver

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by: The Observer Staff

In the nine years Pati Beardsley has been a police officer on Longboat Key, she doesn’t remember a dispute like the one in which she was involved Wednesday, July 16.

Gulf of Mexico Drive was shut down around noon that day to protect the firehose placed across the road for a fire at 5060 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Instructing drivers to turn around if they didn’t have time to wait, Beardsley met Sarasota County Area Transit trolley driver Phillip Wagg, who refused to turn his trolley around and threatened to run over the charged firehose with the passengers he had on board.

Beardsley wrote in her report that Wagg became hostile and threatened to run over the hose, saying, “You can’t close a road just because of a fire” and the “rich people out here think they own the whole island.”

Beardsley explained that it was a criminal act to run over a charged firehose and that the explosion from the hose could damage the trolley and cause it to flip over.

Because of Wagg’s repeated statements that he was going to drive over the hose, Beardsley contacted a SCAT supervisor to alert SCAT of the situation.

Although Wagg did comply with Beardsley’s request, SCAT officials confirmed that Wagg, a probationary employee, was terminated from his position because of the events that unfolded that day.

See the Opinion section for a letter to the editor about Wagg.

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