Florida state trooper hurt in crash with ex-Congressman Madison Cawthorn, witness says

A Florida State Trooper was injured on Monday in a car crash on I-75 allegedly involving former U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican who represented North Carolina for one term.

A 2021 Mercedes rear-ended the Florida Highway Patrol Dodge Charger in a construction zone in Collier County, FHP said in a statement. The state trooper “sustained minor injuries and was transported to an area hospital,” according to FHP.

The agency didn’t identify Cawthorn as the driver, but a passerby posted video on X Monday afternoon of the crash, showing what appeared to be the controversial, right-wing firebrand in his wheelchair on the side of the highway, near the crashed Mercedes. The details shared by the woman matched details from FHP, which said the crash happened at about 4:30 p.m. in a construction zone on the highway.

The poster wrote that the driver of the Mercedes had been driving aggressively and “tailgating her relentlessly” just minutes before rear-ending the state trooper. She noted that while she did not witness the crash, she saw the officer getting out of his vehicle holding his neck.

“I spoke to the cop to see if he was OK as he was quite stunned & kept reaching for his neck,” the poster wrote.

The driver of the Mercedes was identified by FHP as a 28-year-old male from Cape Coral, matching Cawthorn’s age and place of residence. The man wore a uniquely patterned and colorful shirt that Cawthorn has previously worn, according to postings shared by the former congressman on his social media accounts.

The driver was cited for violating Florida’s “Move Over” Law, which requires drivers to move over a lane or slow down substantially for stopped emergency vehicles. The penalty for such a violation is a fine ranging anywhere from $60 to $158.

An accident report has not yet been made available, and likely won’t be released for days.

Cawthorn could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday morning.

Who is Madison Cawthorn?

Cawthorn, who served in the U.S. House representing a district in western North Carolina, lost a reelection bid when he was defeated by a Republican primary challenger in 2022.

That loss to former state Sen. Chuck Edwards came amid several legal and political scandals that had plagued Cawthorn’s campaign.

In March 2022, Cawthorn was pulled over for driving left of the centerline, and was charged with driving with a revoked license. The charge was later dismissed, TV station WLOS reported.

The following month, Cawthorn was cited for having a loaded gun at a TSA checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Cawthorn pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a fine, the Charlotte Observer reported. He was previously caught trying to go through security with a gun at Asheville Regional Airport in February 2021.

Cawthorn also faced scrutiny after the Washington Examiner published a story in April 2022, reporting that the first-term congressman could be implicated in insider trading over a cryptocurrency he had promoted. The reporting led fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis to call on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Cawthorn. The committee found evidence that Cawthorn had violated House ethics rules and fined him, McClatchy reported.

Cawthorn was seriously injured a decade ago in a car crash near Daytona Beach while traveling back to North Carolina from a spring break trip to Florida. That accident left him partially paralyzed.