A Leesburg man found himself behind bars Tuesday night after fleeing from a police officer who reported seeing him hit a bicyclist with his vehicle.
The Leesburg Police officer was traveling south on U.S. Hwy. 27 approaching William Street when he saw a blue 2012 Chevy Cruze accelerate into the intersection and strike the bicyclist. The collision knocked the bicyclist to the ground and the driver of the vehicle, later identified as 31-year-old Kenneth Leon Prince Jr., fled south on U.S. Hwy. 27, a police report states.
The officer called for another officer to check on the bicyclist and started pursuing Prince’s vehicle. He eventually stopped on W. Line Street and his passenger, identified as a tall black male wearing a yellow shirt, fled on foot, the report says.
Prince, who listed his occupation as a construction worker in The Villages, attempted to exit the vehicle but the officer was able to detain him. The officer, who recognized Prince from “previous encounters,” also located another adult black male and a 5-year-old black female in the back seat of the vehicle. It was determined the child was Prince’s daughter, the report says.
The officer detected the odor of alcohol on Prince and reported that his eyes were “very bloodshot.” A check of Prince’s record showed multiple license suspensions and cancellations dating back to March 2013, the report says.
Prince was taken to the Leesburg Police Station and after being read his rights, claimed he hadn’t been drinking Tuesday night. But he admitted that he had consumed several beers after getting off work at 1 p.m. He said he had then taken a nap and “did not feel he was still under the influence of alcohol,” the report says.
Another officer conducted a traffic crash investigation at the scene of the incident and reported that the bicyclist suffered minor injuries. The vehicle Prince was driving was released to its registered owner – the mother of the Prince’s child – who also took her daughter with her, the report says.
Prince refused to submit a breath sample to check for his blood-alcohol content and was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was charged with driving under the influence (third conviction in less than 10 years), driving with license suspended or revoked (habitual offender) and leaving the scene of an accident with injury. He was released late Wednesday morning on $14,000 bond and is due in court Oct. 12 at 8:30 a.m.