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School Crossing Guard Ran Over Gopher Tortoise, Pinellas Deputies Say

Tortoise | Pinellas Sheriff | Wildlife

Deputies said the guard did not intend to harm the animal. The case has been closed with no charges filed, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

DUNEDIN – Deputies have identified a school crossing guard as the driver who ran over a protected gopher tortoise in the San Jose Elementary School bus circle, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

But deputies said there is no evidence a crime has been committed and the case will be closed. There is no evidence, they said, that the guard intentionally drove over the tortoise.

Deputies were called to San Jose Elementary School, 1670 San Helen Drive in Dunedin, on Aug. 11 for a report of an injured gopher tortoise.

Deputies said a concerned citizen reported the injured tortoise found in the bus circle at the school. It appeared the tortoise had been run over. A representative from the Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife responded and took possession of the injured tortoise which later died.

Deputies got surveillance video from the school that depicted a light colored Acura TSX drive over the tortoise in the bus circle.

On Wednesday, August 15, 2018, deputies put the surveillance video of the incident on the Sheriff’s Office’s social media website to try identifying the driver.

According to deputies, 48-year-old Robert Dantschisch saw the video on television and contacted the Sheriff’s Office to identify himself as the driver. Dantschisch has been employed by the Pinellas County
Sheriff’s Office for about three weeks and is assigned as a school crossing guard for San Jose Elementary School.

Dantschisch told deputies that on Aug. 11, he drove his 2013 Acura TSX to San Jose Elementary School accompanied by his wife, 46-year-old Dawn Dantschisch.

Dantschisch explained that Monday was the first day of school and he was being assigned to San Jose Elementary School as a crossing guard. Dantschisch told deputies that, in preparation for the first day of school, he and his wife were driving the route to his new school assignment and he wanted to confirm the school start and end times.

Dantschisch told deputies he drove into the school’s bus circle and stopped to see the school start times on the marquis sign. He was driving forward but looking back at the sign when he ran over an object in the
roadway. As Dantschisch continued driving forward he looked into his rear view mirror and saw that he struck what he thought was a tortoise.

Dantschisch said he did not see the tortoise until after he ran over the animal. Dantschish’s wife corroborated Dantschisch’s statement.

Deputies conducted a reenactment of the events at the scene and concluded that Dantschisch’s actions were accidental; there is no evidence to indicate that Dantschisch intentionally drove over the tortoise.

Photo taken from video of the incident. Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Pinellas Sheriff | Gopher Tortoise | Wildlife | Animals | Tampabay News

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School Crossing Guard Ran Over Gopher Tortoise, Pinellas Deputies Say
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School Crossing Guard Ran Over Gopher Tortoise, Pinellas Deputies Say
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Deputies said the guard did not intend to harm the animal. The case has been closed with no charges filed, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.
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TB Reporter
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