DUNEDIN, Fla. — Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detectives are closing the case on a driver striking a gopher tortoise near an elementary school in Dunedin last week after concluding the actions of the driver were accidental.
- PREVIOUS STORY: Deputies still looking for driver who intentionally ran over school's unofficial pet tortoise
- Driver contacted Sheriff's Office, identified himself
- Driver's story corroborated by passenger in car at the time
According to deputies, after the Sheriff's Office posted surveillance video of the incident across their social media channels on August 15, the driver of the vehicle, Robert Dantschisch, 48, contacted the agency and identified himself as the driver.
Dantschisch was recently employed by the Sheriff's Office and is assigned as a crossing guard to San Jose Elementary School, where the incident occurred.
Dantschisch told investigators he drove to the school on August 11, the day of the incident, with his wife, Dawn, 46, in order to confirm school start and end times in preparation for the first day of school.
He explained that he drove into the school bus circle and stopped to get a view of the school start and end times on the school's marquee sign. He then started driving forward again while still looking back at the sign when he ran over something in the roadway.
Looking back in his rearview mirror, he saw he struck what he thought was a tortoise. He said he didn't see the tortoise until after he'd run over it.
Dantschisch's wife corroborated his account of the events.
Investigators then conducted a re-enactment of the events at the scene. They then concluded that Dantschisch's actions were accidental, and that there was no evidence to indicated what he did was intentional.