BRADENTON -- Two Manatee County sheriff's deputies are describing what it was like to stop a man they were following over the Sunshine Skyway, from jumping off into Tampa Bay. That was at the end of a long and dangerous pursuit.
It began just a few minutes before 2 in the morning on Saturday (9/12) when a Deputy Merrill tried to pull over a suspected DUI driver on State Road 64 near Cypress Creek Boulevard. The driver swerved from lane to lane but refused to pull over. During a second attempted traffic stop, Merrill says the man later identified as 23-year-old Scott Rapson (mugshot) drove straight at him, missing him by a few feet, then putting his car in reverse and trying again before speeding away.
Merrill stayed with the passenger as other deputies tracked down the car. They pursued the man down 64 and up onto northbound I-75. They deployed stop sticks but say Rapson continued onto the Skyway with two flat tires. Deputies shut down northbound I-275 as another deputy watched from the air.
Deputies say Rapson parked near the top of the Skyway, where the water is 200 feet below the roadway, got out and put both his legs over the wall. A detective and a sergeant approached Rapson and began talking to him. Sergeant Bowling said he "tried to talk to (Rapson) as calmly as I can... and try to distract him." As that happened, a Detective Ackerman grabbed Rapson and pulled him to safety. Ackerman described the danger: "You don't have any barriers, there's a truck driving at you... I was concerned for him as well as my own safety."
Rapson got taken to the Hillsborough County Jail (the top of the Skyway is within Hillsborough County). He's charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, driving under the influence and fleeing to elude.
Watch the video of the arrest below:
Photo: Manatee Sheriff's Office, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office