Charlotte County Deputy Killed During DUI Crash on Interstate 75
Nearly a week after a 23-year-old Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor was tragically killed during the line of duty while responding to a routine traffic stop, his family and friends celebrated his life Wednesday morning in Punta Gorda.
Details from the responding officers at the initial auto accident indicate that 23-year-old Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor, who had only been on the job for a little over a year, was in the process of performing a routine traffic stop with a Honda two days before Thanksgiving along Interstate 75 near the Duncan Road off-ramp in Punta Gorda.
An undetermined amount of time after the Charlotte County deputy pulled over to the right shoulder of the road and illuminated the safety lights on his department-issued police vehicle, 30-year-old Cassandra Smith entered the area from the northbound direction of I-75 while driving a Jeep that was on loan from a rental agency. Smith told 9-1-1 dispatchers that she was “trying to avoid the cars on the road” when her vehicle swerved over from the left lane and violently rear-ended the deputy’s cruiser.
Other drivers on the interstate who witnessed the crash and Smith herself dialed for emergency services after the collision occurred. Multiple Charlotte County and Florida Highway Patrol officers were sent to the scene to provide medical assistance to the badly injured deputy. He was immediately transported as a trauma alert to ShorePoint Health Punta Gorda where he passed away from his severe injuries.
The 29-year-old driver of the Honda that was involved in the first traffic stop also sustained serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital. His 28-year-old passenger was unharmed during the collision.
Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol performed field sobriety tests with Cassandra Smith at the scene of the crash and after it was determined that the Massachusetts resident had been operating her vehicle under the influence of alcohol, she was arrested and taken to the Charlotte County Jail where she now faces a DUI manslaughter charge.
Funeral services for the fallen officer were held yesterday morning at the Babcock Ranch Field House in Punta Gorda. “Losing a deputy is unspeakably difficult for the agency, but the passing of such a promising and kind young man is a tremendous loss for the world,” said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell in a statement to the press.
Monetary donations for the victim’s family can be made here.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.