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Motorcyclist Charged with DUI after Crash with Deputy’s Cruiser

Pinellas Crime | Local News | TB Reporter

Pinellas County deputies are investigating the Sunday (March 15) afternoon crash.

ST. PETE BEACH – Pinellas County deputies are investigating a crash between a patrol car and a motorcycle late Sunday (March 15) in St. Pete Beach.

No serious injuries were reported. But deputies arrested Mark Spafford, 66, of 270 Sweetgum Court, Palm Harbor, and charged him with felony DUI, fleeing and eluding, and disorderly intoxication.

Deputies say the incident began shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday (March 15) when Pinellas County sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Langlais tried to stop a 2010 Harley Davidson for erratic driving at about the 6500 block of Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach. The motorcyclist, identified as 66-year-old Mark Spafford, failed to stop and instead sped up and continued northbound on Gulf. According to investigators, Langlais turned his lights and siren off and disengaged.

Investigators say Deputy Michael Tavernier was responding to Langlais’ radio traffic and was approaching from 75th Avenue west of Gulf. As Tavernier was clearing the Gulf Boulevard intersection with his emergency lights and siren, he was unsure where Langlais was and looked south for his emergency lights. As Tavernier attempted to pull onto the curb on the southeast corner of 75th and Gulf, he saw the motorcycle quickly change lanes from the inside right turn lane to the curb right turn lane (to turn right onto 75th).

Investigators say Tavernier was traveling at a slow speed and hit the brake after seeing the motorcycle. Tavernier stopped, partially blocking the curb side right turn lane, still leaving enough room for the motorcycle to turn right. Spafford locked up the front brake of his motorcycle, causing him to lose control. Deputies say the motorcycle fell to its left side and slid into the right side of the bumper of Tavernier’s 2008 Chevy Impala.

Tavernier was not injured in the crash. Spafford was transported by ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. Deputies say Spafford displayed signs of impairment and behaved in a disorderly manner toward staff at the hospital, disrupting the work of the ER staff. After being treated and released, Spafford was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without further incident. The investigation is continuing. For information, see

Pinellas County Sheriff | St. Pete Beach | Cruiser Crash| Local News

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