WESLEY CHAPEL — In David Boyer’s line of work, pairing people with missing loved ones is his primary objective.
Boyer, an eight-year veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, has spent the past five years as a member of its Missing Persons Unit.
Those who are missing don’t typically show up at a detective’s doorstep. At least not until last week.
On Thursday, Boyer was at his home in the Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club community at about 9 p.m. when he spotted a small dog near his sheriff’s office-issued SUV parked in the driveway.
He called the number on the small dog’s tag only to find his call went directly to voice mail.
Boyer wouldn’t find out until nearly an hour later that the dog’s owner, Jeff Deane, had just been in a serious car wreck nearby on Interstate 75 South.
“I did not hear the accident, only the helicopter,” Boyer said of the Bayflite aircraft. The helicopter landed near the crash site and took Deane, 22, to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson. “The dog ended up in my driveway by chance. I’m not sure how she got out without injury, but she is lucky.”
After waiting an hour for a return phone call, Boyer decided to access his law enforcement database, tracking down Connie Deane, Jeff’s mother, in Fort Myers.
Only 10 minutes before Boyer’s call, Connie Deane was on the phone with an emergency medical technician at the scene informing her of the accident.
“The EMTs that responded were wonderful guys. One of them called me … and downplayed it,” Connie Deane said. “The last thing you want to hear is your son was severely injured in a car crash. They said his car was in a ditch on the side of the road and it looked like his arm was broken.
“So I’m thinking, ‘OK, throw stuff in the car and get up there as quickly as possible and deal with that. We didn’t expect to be up here this long at this point,” she said.
Jeff Deane, a Florida State University senior, suffered injuries to his left arm, which was broken in three places, a broken rib and abrasions to his spleen and liver, as well as cuts and bruises on his skin, his mother said.
He remains in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
A Florida Highway Patrol report on the accident said Jeff Deane was southbound in the inside lane of the Interstate 75, south of State Road 52 and north of State Road 54, at about 8:47 p.m. The red, 2000 Ford Explorer veered left, slightly off the road, and then overcorrected to the right on the wet pavement. The SUV crossed the outside lane, then went off the roadway onto the shoulder, where it went into a slide and then flipped several times, coming to rest in the tree line.
Somehow, the dog was unhurt and escaped the wreckage, making her way to Boyer’s home.
Connie Deane said she would be picking up her son’s dog, a 1½-year-old beagle mix named Gooseberry, Tuesday.
“One of my son’s biggest concerns is the dog. He just got the dog in July and he’s just crazy about her,” Connie Deane said of the pup rescued from a Tallahassee animal shelter. “I’m just thankful that Dave and his family have her and are taking such good care of her.
“We talk to them just about every day and they’re taking her to the dog park, and she’s sleeping in the same bed with Detective Boyer. It’s just awesome the dog found exactly the right people to take care of her. We just appreciate that so much.”
Jeff Deane, a hospitality management major, was headed back home to Fort Myers at the time of the accident to start his internship at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.
Monday night, as Jeff underwent surgery, his school was in the BCS national championship football game. Deane was a member of the FSU Marching Chiefs, and his girlfriend is on the drill team.
This is the first year since he enrolled at FSU he hasn’t participated, his mom said.
“We were watching (the game) while he was in surgery, then when he got out of surgery, they were kind enough to let us come up to his room and see him, even though it was after 10 o’clock,” Connie Deane said, finding a light moment in her son’s story. “And we finished watching the game with him in the room, and we were all cheering. It was so amazing.” FSU defeated Auburn in the final seconds.
Moments after the wreck, a nurse arrived at the scene and called 911, Connie Deane said. They’re hoping to track her down and thank her.
The kindness of that nurse and the responding EMTs, her son surviving the traumatic accident and Boyer’s generosity has allowed Connie Deane to glean something positives from the experience.
“There’s some kind of divine intervention here as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “Angels, God, something, looking out over this whole situation. We have come in contact with so many awesome people that have been just so terribly nice, and it’s so amazing.”