Florida Deputy Killed During Construction Site Hit-and-Run Crash
A Florida law enforcement community is mourning the loss of one of their own this week after a deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was struck and killed during a hit-and-run collision on Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg.
According to preliminary incident reports, it was close to 10:45 p.m. on September 22, 2022, when 51-year-old Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hartwick was working an overnight shift providing security for workers at a construction site located along I-275 near the Howard Franklin Bridge. About 30 minutes into his watch, Deputy Hartwick was hit by a front-end loader that was being controlled by 35-year-old construction crew member Victor Vazquez-Real.
After driving the front-end loader for nearly a quarter of a mile away from the crash site, Vazquez-Real allegedly encountered another construction worker in a parking lot and told him about the accident. He then removed his hard hat, vest, and fled the scene on foot. This second individual proceeded to hide the hit-and-run suspect’s safety gear and has since been arrested and charged with accessory after the fact.
A representative from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office stated that approximately 100 officers accompanied by several K9 units searched the area for almost ten hours before they finally located Vazquez-Real early Friday morning along I-275 near Ulmerton Road. He was taken into custody and faces a third-degree felony of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.
“Deputy Hartwick is survived by his two adult sons. We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Deputy Hartwick’s family during this difficult time. Please keep his loved ones along with our PCSO family in your thoughts and prayers,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post.
Since 1977, Florida wrongful death lawyer James O. Cunningham has been representing the families of victims who have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another person. If you would like to schedule a free 30-minute case evaluation, submit a few details surrounding your situation through a contact form on our website. To speak with a representative, please call our office directly at 877-FL-INJURY.
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.