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Jan. 26, 2023

Yesterday morning a 61-year-old woman under the influence of alochol led deputies on a high speed chase, endangering other motorists and construction workers in the Crescent City, Fruitland and Welaka areas.

Deputies received a call of a motorist unconscious in a parking lot at CR 309 in Crescent City. When they responded, the driver had already left in her vehicle. One deputy traveling northbound on 309 saw the vehicle swerving back and forth in the lanes and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The driver, later identified as Cathy Hoxworth, 61, of Crescent City, ignored the lights and sirens and continued traveling toward Welaka. Due to her erratic driving having the potential to put others in danger, deputies attempted to conduct a PIT maneuver but were unable to stop the vehicle. On the third try, the deputy was able to make contact with the vehicle near a construction zone in Welaka, but again Hoxworth was able to drive off with the bumper of her vehicle hanging. Unfortunately, the hit damaged the patrol car and it was unable to continue pursuit.

As Hoxworth approached another construction zone near the Satsuma fire department she suddenly slammed on her brakes and deputies were able to box in her vehicle to prevent her from continuing to endanger others.

Hoxworth still attempted to reach her vehicle's shift gear, ignoring deputies orders to exit the vehicle. Deputies broke the driver's side window in order to access the door from the inside and remove Hoxworth.

Hoxworth was taken to the HCA Florida Putnam Hospital for medical clearance and then taken to the Putnam County Jail. She had a blood alcohol level of 0.28. Levels at or above .08 are considered intoxicated.

"Personally this shocks me to my core the amount of danger innocent people were placed by the actions of this person," Sheriff H.D. 'Gator' DeLoach said. "If it were not for the heroic actions of our deputies who continued to try to stop this reckless woman, there is no doubt someone would have been seriously injured or perished. Multiple times this individual crossed the center line and went into oncoming traffic and drove at high rates of speed through active construction zones."

Colonel Joseph Wells said this is one of the most egregious DUI cases in recent memory.

"The suspect's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit and that does not take into account the other substances found in her system," Wells said.

Hoxworth was charged with fleeing or eluding law enforcement with lights and sirens, fleeing with disregard to the safety of persons or property. reckless driving, DUI of 0.15 or higher and resisting law enforcement without violence. On first appearance her bond was raised from $9,500 to $12,000. Hoxworth currently remains at the Putnam County Jail.

"We are eternally grateful to the resident who initially reported this incident and to our deputies who selflessly placed their lives on the line repeatedly to protect our residents and construction workers," DeLoach said.

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