Police say a pair of street racers reached speeds of 100 mph on the Courtney Campbell Causeway before one of them lost control and slammed into a police cruiser.
Their late-night thrills ended in one arrest, while the other driver got away from the scene.
John Rubio, 34, was taken into custody and charged with unlawful racing and reckless driving.
The officer was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He was treated and released. He was on the shoulder of the causeway specifically to look for racers, the department said.
The accident was cleared around 4 a.m. Monday and all lanes were open.
Police and people who live near the bridges say street racing is not a new problem. A long line of cars revs up to street race every weekend on Bay Area bridges. Then they head to YouTube to post the video, and to mock the police patrols that can't seem to stop them.
Police admit it's a game of cat and mouse, and this morning's crash is the unfortunate proof. According to TPD, Rubio was driving almost 120 mph when he slammed into the back of the cruiser.
Sgt. Thomas Miller was in the driver's seat. Moments before, he was pointing his radar gun out of the window. He received minor bumps and bruises, was treated at the hospital, and released back to full duty.
Tampa Police impounded the Rubio's car. They say the car came ripping down the west side of the causeway and hit the cruiser just over the hump.
Lt. Steven Lee says the causeway and the Gandy Bridge have been trouble spots for more than 20 years.
"As soon as they see us out there and starting to enforce and ticket people, they'll pack up and leave and go to another spot," Lee said.
This isn't the first time Rubio, who is from Melbourne, has been arrested. His record goes back to 1998 and includes reckless driving charges, speeding, and running from police. He has also had five charges for driving with a bad license.
Crab fisherman Floyd DeForest frequently drives along the causeway.
"When we were kids, we all raced. But it was a lot different then," DeForest said. "There's not the traffic there is now."
People who live near State Road 60 and McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater say race cars meet up at a gas station there every weekend to get ready to race. Just over the fence behind it are their homes, and the residents say they put up with the noise constantly.
"It's very loud, even with the windows closed. You can hear it," said Dodie Smith, who has lived in her condo for 10 years. She says she has been dealing with the noise for that long.
"We've kind of gotten used to it through the years," said Smith's neighbor Nigel Planton. "You don't want to see anybody get hurt, but sometimes it could be aggravating."
Rubio is in jail on $750 bond. The other driver got away.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?