Clay County honors deputy for stopping chase

Sgt. Eric Twisdale safely stopped fleeing suspects, saved lives

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Clay County Sheriff's Office honored a few members of its team Tuesday, including one sergeant in particular for his role in stopping a police chase last May.

That chase started in St. Augustine after two teens robbed and shot a convenience store clerk and then took off, leading deputies through St. Johns, Putnam and Clay counties.

According to police, the teens were driving over medians and traveling in both the northbound and southbound lanes, putting other lives in danger. Sgt. Eric Twisdale decided the chase needed to stop.

It did -- on the Governor's Creek Bridge.

Twisdale said he purposely aimed to stop the chase on the bridge, because if the suspects were able to get out and run, the only place they could go would be the water.

But it didn't come to that. The teens were arrested on the bridge.

Twisdale was recognized Tuesday for making that call and was named 2015 Operations Bureau Deputy of the Year.

According to the sheriff, Twisdale asked for permission to ram the car, forcing it to stop. Once he was given that permission, he performed the maneuver.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said the move likely saved other drivers and people in the area from getting hurt.

Twisdale said this was the first time in 18½ years he's ever had to ram a car, and he hopes he won't ever have to do it again.

“I really didn't think about it at the time,” Twisdale said. “I was thinking more about the things that needed to be done and where I was going to do it, how I was going to do it. Just quite honestly, I didn't think about being nervous at the time. Of course afterward, I kind of looked back at everything and saw the video a couple of days later, and it was pretty intense."

Others recognized Tuesday were:

  • Manager Lesli Betts, 2015 Administration Bureau Civilian of the Year
  • Deputy Robert Lane, 2015 Detention Bureau Deputy of the Year
  • Deputy Travis Pritchard, 2015 recipient of the Sheriff John P. Hall Sr. Memorial Law Enforcement Award

And several CCSO members received the agency's Lifesaver Award and pin for their lifesaving actions in 2015: Detective Jermaine Boone, Sgt. Steve Coyne, Deputy Will Littlefield, Deputy Mark Maertz, Sgt. Scott Moreland, Detective James Murphy and Sgt. Brian Welch.

For more on the award recipients, visit the CCSO website.