A traffic crash that seriously injured a Gulfport police officer started with a driver’s desire to stay warm.
Eli Daniel Bosworth, 18, of Gulfport, has twice admitted he was driving a stolen public transportation van when he slammed into a patrol car on Three River’s Road on the evening on Jan. 22, Harrison County prosecutor Herman Cox told the Sun Herald.
First, Bosworth confessed on tape to police officers after slamming into the patrol car of officer Luis Garcia, who was seriously injured.
Then Bosworth took the stand Wednesday in Justice Court — against his attorney’s advice — and confessed a second time, Cox said.
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“He was very coherent,” Cox said. “He understood everything I asked him. He was apologetic. He apologized several times for having injured officer Garcia, (saying) that he did not intend to do that.”
Bosworth’s joyride in the stolen van also emerged during his testimony in Justice Court.
Bosworth said he was dropped off about 4 a.m. Monday in the area of Crossroads Shopping Center by a friend who had to get to work. Bosworth said he got cold, so he went looking for a vehicle with keys inside. He found keys in the Coast Transit Authority commuter van, cranked it up and turned on the heat.
Then he decided to drive the van to Starbucks for coffee. Bosworth said he sat in the coffee shop for about an hour, then drove the van back to Crossroads, where he spent the day browsing through Barnes & Noble bookstore and other shops.
After killing as much time as he could there, he hopped back in the van, he said, to go for a ride. But this time, the van was reported stolen. When officers spotted the van, they chased Bosworth.
The chase ended with the crash. Bosworth now faces felony charges of vehicle theft and fleeing. The charges carry a total of up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.
His attorney had hoped to get Bosworth’s bond lowered, but Judge Bruce Strong refused because Bosworth was admittedly speeding at 75 miles per hour in a congested area, presenting a danger to the public.
Cox said Garcia, a 10-year veteran recognized in the past for heroic actions, has been released from the hospital.