Plant City EMT arrested after punching driver in road rage incident, deputies say

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A Plant City Fire Rescue driver/EMT has been arrested after what authorities described as a “road rage incident” in Hillsborough County on Tuesday.

Daniel Santiago Varela, 51, of Riverview, was driving in the area of U.S. 301 S and Big Bend Road shortly before 6:15 a.m. when he cut off a man’s vehicle on two separate occasions, according to a Tuesday afternoon news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

At the stoplight, Varela got out of his vehicle, walked to the open driver’s side window of the other man’s car and punched him, deputies say.

The man, who the Sheriff’s Office did not identify, tried to roll up his window. According to the release, Varela began pulling on the window glass, at which point the man got out of his vehicle.

“At that moment, deputies witnessed Varela continue his assault on the victim,” the release said.

Varela was arrested and booked into a Hillsborough County jail. He was being held without bond Tuesday evening, jail records show.

Varela is facing a felony charge of burglary of a conveyance with assault or battery.

“The despicable conduct demonstrated by Varela is beyond unacceptable and will not be, under any circumstances, tolerated in our community,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the release. “It is particularly egregious when a public servant, who is supposed to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens, engages in this behavior.”

The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who saw the incident or has information about it to call 813-247-8200.