LAKE WALES, Fla. — A Lake Wales police officer and several others escaped serious injury Tuesday night when a distracted driver plowed into the rear of a patrol car.

What You Need To Know

  • Officer had stopped to help motorist stranded in ditch

  • Vehicle crashed into his patrol car; driver charged with texting while driving

  • BELOW: Watch video released by police department

  • More Polk County headlines

It happened just before 9 p.m. when Officer Jacob Raines stopped to help a stranded motorist whose car was stuck in a ditch along Highway 27 south of Thompson Nursery Road.

Raines was blocking part of the roadway with his emergency lights activated as he and others worked to get the vehicle out of the ditch.

Raines noticed a vehicle traveling northbound in the outside lane that did not appear to be slowing or moving over to go around his patrol car, the Lake Wales Police Department said.

He attempted to warn the driver by waving his flashlight, but the driver collided with his patrol car. The patrol car spun around in the road while the momentum of the other vehicle made it continue traveling forward, striking a 2003 Ford Mustang, knocking one man to the ground and striking a juvenile in the hand.

The cars hit other bystanders as well but they did not sustain any injuries.

"Had Officer Raines still been in front of his patrol car at the time of the crash this story would have ended much differently," said Police Chief Chris Velasques. "This was an avoidable crash caused by distracted driving and not moving over when emergency vehicles were present."

The patrol car was totaled.

Jose Antonio Cuevas of Fort Myers was charged with careless driving and texting while driving, police said.