School crossing guard accidentally ran over gopher tortoise, sheriff says

Deputies are looking for the driver who ran over a protected Gopher Tortoise. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

A school crossing guard employed by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is the man who ran over a gopher tortoise, investigators say.

Investigators shared video of the incident on Facebook last week. It showed a car stopping in the bus loop at San Jose Elementary in Dunedin. The car pulls forward and squishes a gopher tortoise as it crossed the road.

Robert Dantschisch said he saw the video and contacted investigators to say he's the one driving the car. He's been with the sheriff's office for three weeks and just got assigned to be a crossing guard at the school.

Dantschisch told investigators he and his wife went to the school to check the start and end times to prepare for the first day of school. He said he stopped in the bus loop, checked out the sign and drove away. While looking back at the sign, he said he ran over an object in the roadway, which he later learned to be a tortoise. He said he didn't see it until after he ran over the tortoise. The sheriff's office said Dantschisch's wife corroborated his story.

Investigators conducted a re-enactment of the events and determined the incident to be an accident, the sheriff's office said.

The gopher tortoise later died while in the care of Owl's Nest Sanctuary.

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