DUI Crash Kills Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy
A community is mourning the tragic death of a beloved Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy who was killed on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, while attempting to deploy stop sticks in order to end a high-speed chase with a suspected drunk driver along East Lake Road and Forelock Road in north Pinellas County.
According to preliminary reports from the local Pinellas County authorities involved in this fatal auto accident, the high-speed chase originated at approximately 2:45 p.m. when the East Lake Fire Rescue received a 9-1-1 call regarding a man who was asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle at a red traffic light on Forelock Road. First responders quickly arrived at the intersection and found that the man, later identified as 33-year-old Robert Allen Holzaepfel, was still passed out in his pickup truck. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to wake-up Holzaepfel, rescuers were forced to break a window to gain access. The sound of the glass breaking was enough to startle Holzaepfel from his slumber, who proceeded to accelerate his pickup truck away from the scene in a way that was “extremely reckless and very dangerous,” stated Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
As officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, including 30-year-old Deputy Michael Magli, pursued the fleeing suspect, it was decided that stop sticks should be laid out in the path of Holzaepfel’s pickup truck in order to deflate his tires and end the chase. Deputy Magli was in charge of this task and after they were deployed, he returned to the outside of his police cruiser that was parked along the grassy median of the road. In an attempt to avoid capture, Holzaepfel tried to divert his pickup around the police’s obstacle but instead crashed directly into Deputy Magli who became pinned underneath the truck. Sadly, the deputy’s injuries were far too severe to recover from and he passed away at the scene of the accident.
Deputy Magli had proudly served the Pinellas County residents since 2013, and he is survived by his wife and two sons. The suspect has since been arrested and charged with first degree felony murder, DUI manslaughter, driving without a valid license resulting in death, and aggravated fleeing and eluding law enforcement, according to jail records.
Here at the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., we’d like to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of Deputy Magli.
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.