An 89-year-old Navarre man, Karl Trugenberger, was arrested from his nursing home in Gulf Breeze Thursday at 10:30 p.m. on charges stemming from a motor vehicle accident May 3.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol warrant affidavit and accident report, May 3 Trugenberger was driving a red Suzuki sedan westbound on U.S. Highway 98 in front of Lewis Funeral Home when he struck a bicyclist with the left side of the vehicle.
The bicyclist was identified as Michael Rice, 53, of Navarre. At the time of the accident Rice suffered serious injuries to include trauma to the brain. He was taken to the hospital, and Assistant State Attorney James Parker says Rice survived his injuries.
There were several witnesses to the incident including a witness who followed Trugenberger to the Navarre post office. When deputies arrived at the post office Trugenberger said “something hit me, and when I turned around, I did not see anything so I went to the post office because I had mail that has to be sent out,” according to the document.
Trugenberger was later charged with careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident without rendering aid.
After his arrest, Trugenberger’s son, Carl, says he attempted to visit and call his father on several occasions and was denied access by jail staff.
“All I wanted to do is talk to my father. They denied me. Three times they denied my phone calls,” he said.
Carl said he placed those calls at 9:07 a.m., 9:48 a.m. and 11:12 a.m. He also appeared in person at the jail at 1:30 p.m. for his father’s arraignment, but he was told it had been delayed until 4 p.m. and to return at that time. According to Carl, he was told by Sheriff’s Office staff that he was not allowed to speak to his father due to policy. It was later revealed by Carl, that in fact his father had been transferred via ambulance to a local hospital but he was never made aware of that.
A review of Santa Rosa County Jail telephone visitation policy via their website and Inmate Handbook shows that phone visitation is allowed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. free of charge.
Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Rich Aloy said all procedures were followed.
Following an interview with Aloy, he called Navarre Press to say the highest major in charge of the detention facility met with the judge to request that Trugenberger be released with no bond. That request was allowed with no payment of the initial $10,000 bond.
When Carl arrived at the jail to pick up his father, he was then notified about his transport to a hospital at approximately 9 a.m.
“They didn’t even tell me,” he said. Carl believes his father may have been transported for pneumonia, which he was being treated for at the nursing home prior to his arrest.
“He should have never been taken out of that facility,” the son said of the nursing home.
Parker said in an interview with Navarre Press, “There are people that are arrested that have all sorts of ailments.”
Currently, Trugenberger remains in a local hospital where his son says he is having fluid drained from his lungs. According to Carl, his father is very disoriented and unsure of where he is.
Updates to this story will be made as warranted.