James Allen, 52 — who works at Urgent Care in Ormond Beach — was charged Thursday with failure to obey police/fire department and resisting an officer without violence, both misdemeanors, court records show. After spending the night at the Volusia County Branch Jail, he was released Friday morning on his own recognizance. Allen could not be reached for comment Friday.
Volusia County sheriff’s deputies and later the Florida Highway Patrol responded to State Road 40 and Church Street in Barberville early Thursday after 26-year-old Tessa George of Pierson had struck a tree after losing control of her sport utility vehicle. George had been traveling west on S.R. 40 and failed to negotiate a curve just east of Pine Street, FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said. She over-corrected her Hyundai Santa Fe, and that prompted the vehicle into a clockwise rotation, sending the SUV into a tree off the north shoulder of the highway.
Deputies on scene had called for the sheriff’s helicopter because they thought they had an injured driver who might need to be airlifted to the hospital.
Deputy Steven Eisen blocked traffic on S.R. 40 at Church Street and emergency vehicles were lined up in the eastbound lanes, the crash report states. Traffic was backed up in that area.
But Allen, as noted in Eisen’s report, drove his 2007 Toyota around the emergency vehicles for about 200 feet off the paved highway. Deputies and emergency personnel yelled at Allen to stop his car, to no avail, the report states. Allen was ordered three times to park his car east of the emergency vehicles and out of the way of the helicopter, but refused, deputies said, instead stopping on S.R. 40.
Allen then rolled into the open space on S.R. 40 that had been cleared for the helicopter’s landing, the report states. That’s when he almost struck Sheriff’s Sgt. Justin Sawicki with his Toyota, deputies said. As Allen passed Sawicki, the sergeant began yelling at him to stop. Allen was in the helicopter’s landing zone and the chopper was just above, 50 to 100 feet from the ground, the report states. Sawicki then told the pilot to abort the landing to avoid another accident.
Allen, of Port Orange, told deputies he had no idea the road was being blocked and then said, “I always go around firetrucks and never have had a problem before,” the report shows.
But deputies say Allen did have a tough time hearing several people yell at him as he drove around eight fire and emergency vehicles parked in the east lanes of S.R. 40 early Thursday just after midnight.
After the helicopter landing was aborted, Deputy Eisen asked Allen for his driver’s license. Allen refused and Eisen reached into the suspect’s car and grabbed his driver’s license, the report states. Eisen then told Allen to move his car away from the landing zone and then the helicopter did land. When it was determined that George had died at the scene, the helicopter left and Sawicki and Eisen turned their attention back to Allen.
When Allen was handcuffed, he asked, “What’s this all about?” then blurted out that he passes emergency vehicles routinely.