published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Race fans on best behavior
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Another huge crowd -- projected to be 170,000 by Race officials -- flocked to Sebring International Raceway last week to watch Saturday's 61st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. And almost all of them were well-behaved enough to avoid the attention of law enforcement.
"We are extremely pleased," said Sheriff Susan Benton Tuesday morning. "Our folks did amazing. Arrests were at an all-time low." She added that law enforcement help from other counties -- Pasco, Hillsborough, Okeechobee and Polk -- created a united front, so that fewer officers were needed.
Over the course of Race Week 14 people were arrested on 18 charges.
Benton said special attention was paid to underage drinking. There were six arrests for underage liquor possession and one individual was charged with using fake identification. Two spectators were arrested for possession of marijuana, one for drug equipment, three people resisted officers without violence, and three were charged with battery.
Only one person was charged with disorderly public intoxication.
There were two incidents of passengers falling out of golf carts, one requiring transport to Tampa General, the other to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. The current condition of either party is unknown at this time.
As an example of how well ordered the large crowd was, even one of the more serious charges was relatively minor.
Robert Czyszczon, 33, attending the race from St. Pete Beach was arrested for throwing a deadly missile at about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.
According to the arrest report, Czyszczon and a companion approached two deputies patrolling in a designated golf cart asking for a ride. The deputies explained they were not authorized to have passengers and began driving away.
At that point, the reporting deputy said, "I heard a loud noise and felt something strike the rear of the golf cart I was operating." Stopping to investigate, the deputy found a green glass wine bottle lying directly behind the cart.
The deputy remembered Czyszczon had been carrying wine bottles when he asked for a ride. He approached Czyszczon and asked if he had thrown the bottle. During the conversation, the deputy reported that Czyszczon's breath smelled strongly of alcohol and that his eyes were blood shot and his pupils dilated.
Czyszczon was trespass warned away from the race track until 6 a.m. Sunday and his Race ticket was seized. Ultimately, he was placed under arrest for allegedly throwing the bottle.
Booked into custody Saturday at 2:45 a.m., he was released at noon the same day on a $5,000 bond.
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