On January 5, 2024, at approximately 5:54 p.m. Communications Specialist Stephen Watkins was riding his modified hand pedal bicycle in the area of Sesame Blvd., as far in the right lane as possible, when he was struck by a red Ford hatchback that fled the scene.

While the vehicle was traveling southbound, it struck Stephen in the rear of his hand-cycle with the bottom of its front-right bumper, causing him to spin and face northbound in the southbound lane. The vehicle then briefly stopped a short distance down the road, but no one exited the vehicle and then fled. The driver failed to stop and remain at the scene of the crash as required by Florida law. Witnesses of the incident described the driver as a white male and provided a partial Florida tag number.
Watkins, a paraplegic, who is unable to feel pain in his lower extremities because of his disability, had sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital to be evaluated out of precaution.

Through investigation, deputies determined that a 2014 red Ford Focus, bearing a Florida tag similar number to what the witnesses described was in the vicinity at the time of the crash. Further information revealed the registered owner of the vehicle to be Andrew Croswell, 35, a resident of Palm Coast. Deputies went got his home, but his parents stated he was not there.

At approximately 11:40 p.m. deputies located the suspect vehicle traveling north bound on US-1 heading from Plantation Bay. Deputies conducted a traffic stop and the driver was identified as Clara Smith, 48, and her passenger, identified as Crosswell. During the investigation, Croswell admitted to driving the vehicle earlier in the day and hitting the bicycle, but claimed he did not think he hit a person so he continued driving. The vehicle had damage consistent with the
earlier crash.

Commander Brian Finn located a crystal-like substance in Smith’s purse. Crosswell was found to be in possession of the same substance, both of which tested positive for Methamphetamine. Croswell was arrested for Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Injury, Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia. Smith was arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia.

During the booking process, Crosswell was found to have concealed additional Methamphetamine on his body and was also arrested for Introduction of Contraband into an Inmate Facility.

Watkins made local headlines a few years ago after he contracted a life-threatening staph infection while serving as a Detention Deputy with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office that left him paralyzed from the chest down. He received generous donations from the community and was hired as a Communications Specialist by Sheriff Rick Staly.

“Fleeing the scene of an accident is cowardly and illegal. In this case, the victim was a paralyzed man and a beloved member of the community and our team that was struck and left in the roadway,” said Sheriff Staly. “I commend the witnesses that stopped and called for help and the team effort that caught his pathetic driver. I’m also glad that Stephen was not seriously hurt and I’m happy to say these two cowards are now locked up at the Green Roof Inn, and their poison confiscated.”

For video of the arrest, please visit the link here: http://tinyurl.com/bdzmd3xk