According to a story first published by the Florida Capital Star this morning, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried allegedly arrived on the scene of a September 15, 2021 crash involving her fiancé, Jake Bergmann, and a brick mailbox just a few yards from their Tallahassee home. But despite a Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy noting that the crash was caused by distracted driving and driving too fast for conditions on the wet road, no traffic citation was issued.
According to the police report, Bergmann crossed the centerline of Pimlico Road and impacted the brick structure, destroying it and scattering bricks and other debris an estimated 30 yards from the impact (main photo, above).
The single-vehicle crash occurred just one mile from both Roberts Elementary and Montford Middle Schools at 4:41pm, a time when many students are on the street walking home, riding bicycles or playing nearby. The destroyed mailbox was next to a sidewalk.
Last fall, when reports of the incident first surfaced, sources familiar with the situation told The Capitolist that Fried herself arrived on the scene after the crash, but it was not clear if she spoke with law enforcement at that time or what role she played after the crash. Sources also provided The Capitolist with photos of the mailbox after it was destroyed, but no story was published because many of the other details, including an official police report and photos of the truck, were not available at the time and key details could not be confirmed.
A print date on the Capital Star’s version of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office report indicates it was likely printed as part of a public records request on January 6th, 2022. Using the report, the Capital Star was then able to obtain a vehicle identification number (VIN) which led to photographs of the truck when it was sold at a salvage yard. The Capital Star also reported that a source familiar with the incident also confirmed that Fried was on the scene both before and after a Leon County official arrived, and that the police report confirmed no ticket was issued to Bergmann.
Leon County Sheriff’s deputies have some discretion as to whether or not to issue a citation.
In this case, the report says that Bergmann admitted to driving while looking at his cellphone, an apparent violation of Florida Statute 316.305 (3)(a), which forbids drivers from even reading the screen of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. The report also cites that Bergmann “drove too fast for conditions.” The weather was listed on the report as “rain” and road conditions were listed as “wet.”
The Capital Star’s Steve Stewart, who broke the initial story this morning, included full accident details. Tallahassee residents are already familiar with Stewart’s groundbreaking work covering Andrew Gillum when he was mayor of Tallahassee on his other news site, Tallahassee Reports.