Denard Robinson cited for careless driving for pond crash

Jaguars running back fell asleep at wheel, drove into pond, officers say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars running back Denard Robinson has now been cited for a crash that caught national attention.

Officers said Robinson fell asleep at the wheel early the morning of July 3 and drove into a retention pond.

Robinson wasn't initially cited for the crash, but after reviewing the case at the order of Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, JSO cited Robinson with careless driving.

"I think if it had been someone who was not a famous or high-profile person, I don't know if it would have gone to the level of the sheriff," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.

Police said Robinson's attorney accepted the citation, which comes with a $164 fine.

Williams said last week that he had ordered a review of how the officers at the scene handled the crash. That review has not been concluded, the Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

“With my experience as a police officer, I have been to one-car crashes and not written a citation because there was not an independent witness or someone there to say what the person did wrong or that he was careless,” Smith said. “And I may not have had enough physical evidence to prove that, so it is not out of the ordinary.”

No one was injured in the crash, but it took the responding officer some time to get Robinson and his female passenger out of the car, because they did not realize they had run off the road, according to the crash report.

"I had questions right away when hearing the details of the case," Williams said in a news conference last week. "I haven't spoken to the officers and have only briefly looked at the report. It warrants someone taking a look at it based on (the fact that) I had questions, and those questions need to get answered. We should work through that pretty quickly."

The report said Robinson, 25, was driving a black Chevy Impala west on Beach Boulevard about 4:30 a.m. July 3 and tried to turn left on Southside Boulevard but made a wide left turn that sent the car over a sidewalk and down an embankment into the pond.

The officer who filed the report said there were no skid marks to indicate Robinson tried to brake before he hit the water.

A woman called 911 and said the Impala had veered in front of her into the pond, and the car was sinking, but no one was getting out.

"The car is sinking; it’s sinking and nobody is moving from the car," the caller said.

LISTEN: 911 caller reports car in pond and 'no one is getting out'

The report said the officer found Robinson and the woman, Marissa Staples, asleep or passed out in the front seat of the car, which was submerged in the water on the driver's side. Sources told News4Jax the car belonged to Robinson's girlfriend, who is not Staples.

Robinson opened his eyes when the officer tried to wake the two up but then went back to sleep, the officer said in the report.

Staples rolled down her window at one point and said, "What's up?" the officer said, but she tried to roll the window back up when the officer said the car was in a pond and the two needed to get out of it.

The officer was able to reach inside and unlock the door before Staples rolled her window back up, but he had to physically pull her out of the car, the report said.

According to the report, Robinson was passed out the whole time. When the officer woke Robinson up, he told him he didn't want to leave the car because he thought he was still on the road. The officer had to remove Robinson's seat belt, turn off the car and tell Robinson several times to climb out of the passenger side after he tried at least three times to open the driver's side door, which was under water.

The officer said another officer, Matthew Borgert, was at the scene to screen Robinson for impairment but Borgert "felt the driver was not impaired and should not be charged with DUI." 

"So maybe he decided that he didn't want to write the citation because he didn't think he would fail the test, or there is a possibility that he didn't do a citation or test because he is a Jaguar player. That's a possibility also," Smith said.

Williams announced last week that he had ordered a review of the incident by the officer's chain of command.

"Based on that review, any necessary and warranted corrective action will be taken," Williams said in a statement.

Williams admitted in the news conference that there probably should have been an explanation or "enforcement activity" after the crash.

That enforcement came days later in the form of the careless driving citation.

"(Writing tickets later) doesn't happen often but it does happen," Smith said. "Because I can investigate the case, review it and see things in there that may have caused them to decide to write a citation."

Robinson, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Jaguars, released a statement after the crash on his Twitter page:

I just wanted to let everyone know that I was involved in a single-car accident on Saturday night, and thankfully, everyone was safe and remained unharmed.
I thank God every single day for the opportunities he has presented me with, and I'm grateful every morning to wake up healthy.
I should not have been driving that late or when I was that tired, but again, I'm just glad that everyone was safe. God Bless.

The Jaguars also released a statement on the crash last week:

The team is aware that running back Denard Robinson was involved in a single-car accident over the weekend and is thankful that nobody was injured.

Robinson and the team declined to comment after JSO announced Robinson's citation.

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