MCSO staffer arrested on DUI charges

A 20-year-old Monroe County Sheriff’s Office employee allegedly drove his pickup truck into another vehicle on Big Coppitt Key Saturday, causing it to catch on fire according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

An FHP arrest report states Joseph Silva, property clerk at the Stock Island Detention Center, was driving northbound on U.S. 1 and turned onto 4th Street on Big Coppitt 6:30 a.m. That’s when his 2014 Dodge pickup hit the right side of a woman’s pickup truck.

“The victim was trapped in the burning car,” the FHP write up says. “Witness pulled her from the flame-engulfed vehicle.”

The report says firefighters from Station 8 in Stock Island and Station 9 in Big Coppitt responded to the scene and transported Silva and the woman to Lower Keys Medical Center. Firefighters told FHP they believed Silva was drunk. 

The FHP trooper interviewed Silva at 8 a.m., asking him what happened.

“I don’t know,” said Silva, in the report. “One minute I was driving home then I am here.”

The FHP trooper wrote Silva smelled strongly of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. Blood was drawn from Silva after he signed an implied consent form. It was sent to the Sheriff’s Office for testing. 

Silva’s Miranda rights were read to him at 8:30 a.m. before he was transported to the Key West jail, to which he responded “No, not now! Too mixed up!,” according to the FHP.

Silva was arrested on two driving under the influence-related charges, one for causing injury and the other for property damage. 

Silva left jail at 11:05 a.m. Saturday without having to pay a bond. He is ordered to appear before Judge Peary Fowler in Key West 9 a.m. Sept. 3.

According Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin, Silva has been employed by the agency since September 2014 and is under review following his arrest. 

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said he’s still waiting on full details of the crash but has been told the woman’s injuries were minor.

“We’re disappointed, it was a poor decision on his part,” Ramsay said. “We don’t take lightly to anything that tarnishes the agency. Right now we’re looking into it with him.”

Ramsay said Silva has a civilian position with the Sheriff’s Office and is not a deputy. Mark Kohl, executive director with the State Attorney’s Office, said Silva does not have a defense attorney as of Tuesday morning. Silva’s full arrest report isn’t public record yet because “the case is a pending prosecution,” Kohl told the Keynoter. “In this case no items have been produced to the defense counsel, therefore, none of the file is currently public record.”