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Polk County Public Schools Finalist For Assistant Principal Of The Year Arrested For Driving Wrong Way Down Interstate 4

The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating an incident that occurred early on Sunday morning after a Lakeland man was arrested for driving the wrong way on I-4. That man has been identified as Craig Hilgenberg. Mr. Hilgenberg of Lakeland is the assistant principal at Dixieland Elementary in Lakeland. He was a finalist for Assistant Principal of the Year this past year 2023.

Early Sunday morning a trooper responded to the area of I-4 at County Line Road around 1:30 a.m. According to the FHP, while the trooper was responding to the scene, they were notified by Tampa dispatch (TBRCC) that the suspect vehicle, a red Honda Accord, was continuing to drive east in the westbound lanes.

FHP says as the trooper approached exit 32 (US-98), the Honda was seen driving east on the inside shoulder of I-4 in the westbound lanes.The Honda passed by the trooper that was in the center lane of I-4 headed east. The trooper tried to catch up to the car that was on the inside shoulder by making a U-turn, according to officials.

Eventually after passing several vehicles that were lawfully headed in the right direction the trooper attempted the first of two P.I.T. Maneuvers (Precision Immobilization Technique) .

Eventually after the 2nd P.I.T. Maneuver they were able take Hilgenberg into custody. According to another news outlet (Fox 13 News) “Hilgenberg smelled like alcohol and had slurred speech during the time of the arrest, according to the arrest report.

FHP says Hilgenberg was taken to the Polk County Jail and threw up in the parking lot. The vomit smelled like alcohol, according to authorities. 

Officials say he refused to perform field sobriety exercises and refused to provide a breath sample.

Craig Hilgenberg was charged with one count of fleeing with disregard of safety to persons or property and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

He was turned over to Polk County Detention Deputies, according to officials.”

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Carl Fish

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