Dump-truck driver gets probation for I-75 crash – Sarasota Herald

Bonnie D. Ramsingh, 56, of North Miami, was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage without leaving information and of driving without a commercial driver’s license.

He pleaded no contest to the charges stemming from the Dec. 18 crash. Both charges are misdemeanors. Ramsingh will serve up to 18 months of probation.

A month before the December crash, Ramsingh was arrested in Port Charlotte on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, with a blood-alcohol content nearly twice the level at which Florida drivers are considered intoxicated.

Ramsingh’s regular license was revoked after the Nov. 17 arrest, and he was not legally permitted to be driving the dump truck that slammed into the overpass.

According to police, Ramsingh inadvertently left the hydraulic bed of his truck in the upright position as he drove away from a construction project widening I-75 from two lanes to three lanes between exits 181 and 182.

As he drove under the Ponce De Leon Boulevard overpass at about 2:35 a.m., the elevated bed hit the overpass, became completely detached from the truck and stood vertically in the middle of the interstate.

North Port police officers found Ramsingh at 4 a.m. at a convenience store at the corner of Price and Sumter boulevards — more than two miles from the scene of the accident.

Ramsingh did not call for help inside the store but instead bought a soda, police said.

After the crash, Florida Highway Patrol troopers closed down a 9-mile section of I-75 from River Road to Sumter Boulevard as crews rushed to fix the damaged overpass, which was raining debris.

Traffic was rerouted to U.S. 41 in North Port while crews worked during two days and four nights. Some drivers complained it took nearly three hours to complete the detour.

Ramsingh will serve six months of probation for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He faces another year of probation for driving without a commercial driver’s license.

He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, but was given credit for the time he served before his trial.

According to the Sarasota County Clerk of Court, Ramsingh also owes $1,041 in fines and fees.

Repairs to the overpass will cost far more than that fine. Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Zac Burch said the company contracted to expand I-75 to three lanes, Colombia-based Conalvias Construction, paid for the repairs to the overpass.

Workers with Conalvias did not directly hire Ramsingh, but hired a subcontractor who then hired Ramsingh.

Burch said Conalvias is trying to sue Ramsingh’s insurance to help cover some of the cost of the repairs.

Attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.