Driver charged in accident with 83-year-old woman

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A driver was arrested Thursday in connection with the accident that sent an 83-year-old woman's car off a bridge and into a snake-infested swamp, where she lay for three days before being rescued.

Scott Andrew Campbell, 21, of Hollywood was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries and filing a false police report.

Police said Campbell rear-ended Tillie Tooter's car on Aug. 12, sending it over a 40-foot-high bridge. For three days, no one knew she lay underneath Interstate 595, in part because Campbell allegedly told troopers that he hadn't hit another car.

Tooter survived by collecting rainwater in a steering wheel cover and wrote a farewell note to her family. Eventually, a teen-ager picking up litter spotted her, and she was hospitalized in serious condition with insect bites and dehydration.

''I'm glad they found who did this,'' said Lori Simms, Tooter's granddaughter. ''I hope he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He left her to die. I hope he gets what he deserves.''

Campbell's lawyer, Lee Cohn, said Campbell immediately reported the accident, stayed at the scene and told troopers he did not know whether he hit a guardrail, debris or another vehicle.

''He did everything the law says he's supposed to do. He called the police and he told them what he knew,'' Cohn said.

The Florida Highway Patrol and Broward County firefighters had received at least two 911 calls Aug. 12 reporting a car going over the bridge, but they found only Campbell's Camaro when they arrived.

Campbell, whose car had front-end damage, told troopers there were no other cars involved in the crash, investigators said. Firefighters used floodlights to look below the highway but found no signs of Tooter's car.

Campbell was questioned again after Tooter was found and said he did not know what he had hit, according to investigators.

The FHP confiscated his Camaro last week. Investigators said it had paint marks that were matched to Tooter's car.

He surrendered to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Tooter had been headed to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to pick up her granddaughter when she was struck from behind.

She said she screamed, cursed and prayed for someone to rescue her.

Tooter captured rainwater, sopped it up with a pair of socks and then squeezing it into her mouth. She also sucked on two cough drops, a piece of hard candy and a button, and chewed her only stick of gum.

Simms said her grandmother is recovering, but ''emotionally she has a long way to go.''


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