Mangled by texting driver, Florida Highway Patrol trooper slowly mends

Rosario on the mend

Eleven months after a texting driver smashed into him, Florida state trooper Carlos Rosario still sees double.  His disfigured mouth doesn’t close properly.  He can’t raise his right eyebrow.  His toes go numb, and he can’t drive.  “I’ve learned to be used to the pain,” he said.  “There’s always pain.”  Rosario, a trooper for 12 years, was left mangled when a 26-year-old driver, glancing down at his phone at 89 mph, lost control as Rosario clocked speeders along State Road 836 in Miami-Dade County.  Court records show that Hugo Olivares sent four texts and received six messages in the seven minutes leading up to the crash.  When Rosario tried to stop a car in front of him, Olivares couldn’t slow down, spun out of control and hit Rosario as he stood near the road.  The 41-year-old trooper suffered a broken back, two broken legs, a broken arm and a broken jaw.  His face was sliced and “opened like the predator,” a sci-fi character, he said.  Rosario has no memory of the day, March 17, 2017.  He lay unconscious for the next three weeks.  Relatives tell him he was responsive to their words and touch, but he doesn’t recall their bedside vigil.  With screws, rods and plates in his legs and jaw, Rosario is on the mend today, though he still faces more surgery and months of rigorous physical therapy.  Before three mon ths came up, I was already walking without a walker, through the glory of God,” he said. Now he is able to jog a mile, with a few walking breaks.  As remarkable as his recovery, though, are his feelings toward the young man who made it necessary.  Rosario said he immediately forgave Olivares upon learning he wasn’t a criminal and he was about the same age as his own two sons.  “I don’t want him to do any time at all,” Rosario said.  “I know the effects of a prison on a kid.  I didn’t want the kid to be influenced in any way — I did want him to learn from it.”  Olivares was charged with reckless driving with bodily injury.  He was sentenced in December to five years’ probation, lost his driver’s license for two years and was ordered to do community service, a punishment Rosario signed off on with prosecutors.  In an apology letter to the trooper, Olivares wrote: “If I could turn back time, I would not have used my phone while I was driving that day.  There is nothing so important that requires a text message in response while driving.”  In his letter, Olivares indicated that he wanted to bring media attention to distracted driving and become a “catalyst for change,” but Olivares and his attorney declined to comment for this story.  As a victim, Rosario supports efforts to make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida, meaning police could pull over drivers without needing another reason to stop them.  He also believes high school students should be given sobering lessons about distracted driving and its deadly consequences.  About four months before Rosario’s accident, the husband of his wife’s cousin was killed by a texting driver in California.  “My family got affected twice in the same year,” he said.  He had hoped to return to work by March 17, on the one-year anniversary of his crash.  But his body isn’t ready.  He is still intensively trying to strengthen his muscles and regain motion through physical therapy.  Small tasks that most people would take for granted are still challenging: standing up from sitting, pulling up a pair of shorts, pouring himself a cup of coffee.  Through the exercises — whether it’s performing mini-squats or tossing and catching a basketball — Rosario improves his lost capabilities little by little.  Some routines are tougher, more painful, but he grimaces through the aches and cramps and his limitations.  “I could have easily died.  I could have become a vegetable,” Rosario said.  “But, look, I’m here. There’s a reason.”



Louisiana State Police to get new patrol units

LSP New Cruiser

For the vast majority of people who travel Louisiana highways, State Police vehicles are easily recognizable.  Many people have grown accustomed to seeing our iconic white Ford Crown Victorias and Chevrolet Tahoes with blue Louisiana boot badges and red lettering.  Beginning in February 2018, motorists will begin to see Troopers patrolling our highways in Dodge Chargers.  Troopers will be using multiple variations of the new Dodge Charger patrol vehicles across the state to perform day to day duties.  The fully marked Dodge Charger equipped with the traditional Louisiana State Police logo and overhead light bar will serve alongside the Tahoes and Crown Victorias as our primary patrol vehicles.  New to our patrol fleet will be less visible, semi-marked and unmarked Dodge Chargers.  These vehicles will be used to help our Troopers combat aggressive, impaired, and distracted driving.  For years we have heard the concerns of the motoring public about increasingly dangerous driving behaviors on Louisiana highways.  Unfortunately, the highly visible and detectable patrol vehicles used by our Troopers have often hindered efforts in conducting enforcement related to dangerous driving behaviors.  These new less visible vehicles will allow our Troopers to blend in with traffic, and observe and stop drivers who choose to drive recklessly.  The semi-marked Dodge Charger will be outfitted with reflective silver lettering and Louisiana boot badge that will be less visible than our traditional red and blue graphics.  The vehicle will be equipped with low profile exterior and interior blue emergency lighting instead of the traditional overhead light bar.  The unmarked Dodge Chargers will be equipped with blue low profile exterior and interior mounted emergency lights, and will carry no identifiable exterior markings.  Despite the fact that the exterior look of some of our vehicles will be changing, the interior will remain the same.  Troopers conducting enforcement activities in our fully, semi, and unmarked vehicles will still be wearing the official and highly identifiable blue Louisiana State Police Uniform.  These new Dodge Charger patrol vehicles will help Louisiana State Police continue our mission of keeping our highways safe for our citizens and visitors.



208 troopers graduate from New York State Police Academy

NYSP January 2018 graduation

Another 200-plus troopers have joined the ranks of the New York State Police.  A graduation ceremony was held Wednesday at the Empire State Plaza in Albany for 208 new members of the state police.  It was the 206th class to graduate from the Basic School of the New York State Police Academy in Albany.  Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke at the graduation ceremony and state police Superintendent George P. Beach II welcomed the graduates to the ranks of the nearly 5,000 troopers already serving across New York state.  The Academic Achievement Award was bestowed on Trooper Sean Snellings, of Blasdell, near Buffalo.  The new troopers report for field duty Feb. 5 for 10 weeks of supervised training.



AAST presents Spirit of the Trooper Awards for Hurricane Harvey assistance

Keith Barbier6


AAST Presents Spirit of the Trooper Award to Buc-cee’s and Academy Sports & Outdoors for their assistance to the first responders during Hurricane Harvey 

President Barbier presented Mr. Joe Matthews, VP of Loss Prevention with Academy Sports & Outdoors, the AAST Spirit of the Trooper Award that recognizes those who go above and beyond to support state troopers and their families.  Academy provided shelter from the storm at their Corporate Headquarters, located in Katy, Texas to the troopers arriving from out of town.  Troopers coming from west and northwest Texas were cut off from going to the DPS Houston Regional Office due to the flooding of the highways.  Academy opened up their parking garage to allow troopers to park and sleep in their patrol cars the first night.  Academy also allowed the National Guard to set up their mobile command post operations and tents for the soldiers assigned to the area.  The command post was stationed at this location for 3 weeks.  In the early days after Hurricane Harvey the National Guard was refueling helicopters at the Academy headquarters facility until other arrangements could be made.

Buc-ee’s Katy, Texas store General Manager Brent Call and Manager Robert Clark were also presented with the AAST Spirit of the Trooper Award by President Barbier for their Hurricane Harvey assistance.  The Buc-ee’s Katy store had not opened to the public by the time Hurricane Harvey made land fall.  The Grand Opening had been scheduled and the store was stocked and ready to open.  The decision was made by Buc-ee’s to delay the grand opening and allow the Texas Highway Patrol and other first responders to come into the store for rest, food, and beverages at no charge.  Mr. Call and Mr. Clark managed this project.

Rick Muniz, Lt. and George Rhyne, Major both retired Troopers from Texas Department of Public Safety, AAST members volunteered to cook for the Texas Troopers and the DPS mobile command post supervisors who were assigned to Katy during the Harvey recovery period.  Muniz and Rhyne cooked and served over 3,000 meals to State and Federal Law Enforcement Officers and volunteers who were working to rescue and evacuate people from flooded areas of Houston.  They were also assisted by hundreds of volunteers who served and cleaned up the cooking area, and others who donated food and services, with some offering to wash clothes for the Troopers.  Muniz and Rhyne were also presented the AAST Spirit of the Trooper Award. 

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Florida Highway Patrol trooper intentionally struck by driver on highway

FHP Trooper deliberately hit by car

As Florida Highway Patrol trooper Joseph Perri filled out paperwork on the shoulder of a highway, a speeding sedan slammed into his patrol car.  But what seemed like an accident was actually done on purpose, and the man behind the wheel is facing charges, according to FHP officials.  After ramming into Perri, the Daytona Beach driver got out of the car, approached the trooper and told him he “struck the patrol car on purpose,” said FHP spoksperson Sgt. Kim Montes.  “The allegations that someone would intentionally target a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper as they were working in the name of safety is absolutely horrific,” Terry L. Rhodes, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said in a statement that was posted on Twitter.  On Monday afternoon, Perri was parked on the eastbound shoulder of I-4 at mile marker 103 near Sanford when 38-year-old Ryan John Hithersay drove his 2005 Hyundai sedan into his car, FHP says.  The Hyundai ended up in a muddy ditch, according to Montez, and the patrol car had side and tire damage.  Perri, 42, was not badly injured but was taken to a nearby hospital.  Hithersay faces a charge of aggravated battery on a law-enforcement officer, Seminole County jail records show.  Early last year, trooper Carlos Rosario, a 12-year FHP veteran, was also hit by a speeding vehicle.  Rosario had just stopped his patrol car on the side of the Dolphin Expressway to clock speeders.  He was standing beside his car when Hugo Andre Olivares, who was texting, speeding and driving, lost control of his Chevrolet and hit Rosario and his Dodge Charger so violently that the parked patrol car lurched forward at about 35 mph, according to an arrest warrant.  Rosario suffered extensive injuries to his legs, spine, face and head.