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Longboat driver charged in hit-and-run crash that damaged police cruiser

A part-time resident hit and injured Longboat Key police officer Ray Bergeron last week then left the scene, a third degree felony.

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  • | 4:24 p.m. January 2, 2018
  • Longboat Key
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Police Chief Pete Cumming said he believes the police cruiser hit last week will be a total loss.
Police Chief Pete Cumming said he believes the police cruiser hit last week will be a total loss.

Longboat Key police are down to five patrol cruisers after a hit-and-run collision last week took one of them off the road, possibly for good, and sent its driver, Officer Ray Bergeron, to the hospital for the night.

Sandra Shepherd, an 80-year-old seasonal resident of Longboat Key from Michigan, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, a third-degree felony. 

Bergeron is back on the job without serious injury.

The collision, which took place at about 35 mph at around 9 p.m. Dec. 27 in the 1000 block of Gulf of Mexico, damaged the police department's Ford SUV to the degree Police Chief Pete Cumming said he thinks it could be a total loss, though a mechanical assessment will determine that. 

Cumming said the white Lexus sedan that struck the police cruiser at northernmost entrance to Country Club Shores hesitated for 30 seconds after the collision, then drove off. Bergeron couldn’t open the door of his cruiser, wedged into a nearby ditch.

Shepherd arrived at a Sarasota Lexus dealer the next morning, seeking repairs to her car,  Cumming said. 

Although Bergeron didn’t see what kind of car hit him, traffic cameras at the Country Club Shore’s northernmost entrance and at the south end of Gulf of Mexico Drive did. 

It was registered in West Bloomfield, Michigan, to a woman who owned a condo at Longboat Harbour Condominium. The car had been insured there and Shepherd had filed a claim that she’d been hit in a grocery store parking lot, Cumming said. 

“What she did afterward leads us to believe she knew what she did and tried to avoid consequences,” Cumming said. 

When Detective Lt. Robert Bourque asked Shepherd if she knew why police were visiting her, she said she thought she'd hit something, Cumming said. After a few more questions, Cumming said Shepherd invoked her right to an attorney and questioning stopped.

Police filed for an arrest warrant in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.  

“There’s no real reason to handcuff and load up an 80-year-old woman,” Cumming said. 








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