Arrest made in Siesta bridge hit-and-run case

The Florida Department of Transportation has had a contractor working on the north Siesta bridge since June 5, to rehabilitate the structure. One lane of the bridge is closed at night only. The work is to be completed by Oct. 16. File photo

On Aug. 21, Gary F. O’Callaghan, 37, of 5159 Oxford Drive, was arrested and charged in connection with an Aug. 1 hit-and-run incident on the north Siesta Bridge that resulted in the injury of a worker involved in the bridge’s rehabilitation, the Sarasota Police Department has announced.

O’Callaghan was charged with leaving a crash with serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. His bond was set at $50,000.

The Police Department had requested the public’s assistance in identifying the driver and locating the hit-and-run vehicle. Information provided in response to that request led to O’Callaghan’s arrest, a Police Department news release points out.

The investigation was conducted by Officer Tim Bales, the news release notes. Bales provided a detailed account of the incident.

At approximately 2:20 a.m. on Aug. 1, O’Callaghan was traveling west on State Road 758, operating his 2010 red Lexus, when he approached the north Siesta bridge, Bales wrote. O’Callaghan failed to stop for the flagman, who was holding up a stop sign, waving his arms and finally yelling at O’Callaghan. The flagman, who thought the vehicle was going to strike him, backed up and fell over the metal railing, the report says.

Another worker, Larry Norris, 60, who heard the flagman yelling, “was afraid that he would also get struck and climbed over the concrete railing on the bridge,” Bales reported. O’Callaghan struck three construction barrels, one of which then hit Norris, causing him to fall.

Norris hit the ground about 15 feet below the bridge, Bales reported. Norris was transported by ambulance to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment of serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

After O’Callaghan continued to travel west, with a construction barrel under his vehicle, another driver saw him, the report says. That driver attempted to follow O’Callaghan and get a tag number, Bales reported. However, that driver was unable to catch up to the Lexus.

After arriving at work the morning of Aug. 1, O’Callaghan told six co-workers he was heading home at 2:30 a.m. and was going over the Siesta bridge when a black Escalade struck construction barrels on the bridge. He added, the report says, that he swerved to avoid one barrel and struck another.

All witnesses located on the crash scene “stated that there was not another vehicle that struck the barrels,” Bales wrote in the report. “O’Callaghan is at fault in the crash and is being charged with leaving the scene of a crash with serious injury,” along with leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. He also was cited for failure to render aid, failure to report a crash and careless driving, Bales wrote.

Bales’ investigation included interviews with 10 individuals who provided information on the crash (three witnesses to the crash, the injured victim and the six co-workers of O’Callaghan), the report says. Bales extended his appreciation to the public for the information leading to O’Callaghan’s arrest.

Anyone with additional information regarding this hit-and-run crash is asked to contact Bales at 941-364-7323.