A 23-year-old Charlotte County, FL, sheriff’s deputy died at an area hospital after being hit by his patrol vehicle when it was struck by a suspected drunk driver while on a traffic stop Tuesday night. Deputy Christopher Taylor had served the department slightly less than a year.
The driver that hit the deputy has been arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter.
Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell, says in a video released on social media, that Taylor had conducted a traffic stop on I-75 and was outside his vehicle speaking with the driver of the stopped car. Another vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed struck the patrol car, which subsequently hit Taylor, the sheriff explains.
“Deputy Taylor joined the agency in August of 2021 and was officially sworn in on Feb. 14, 2022. In his little under a year of service to Charlotte County, Chris exemplified the core values of the CCSO — integrity, professionalism, and trust,” says Prummell. “He just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday.”
“Losing a deputy, a member of our family, is unspeakably difficult for the office,” the sheriff adds. “Chris may have been an only child but there are countless brothers and sisters, many right here in the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, who mourn him. The passing of such a promising and kind young man is a tremendous loss for Charlotte County, and all the world.”
According to the sheriff’s office, Good Samaritans attempted life-saving measures after the deputy was struck and upon arrival other law enforcement officers did the same. He was transported to Punta Gorda ShorePoint Health where he succumbed to his injuries.
The driver, identified by the sheriff’s office as 30-year-old Cassandra Smith, called 911 after losing control of her Jeep and veering across three lanes into the shoulder striking the deputy. Smith was taken into custody by the Florida Highway Patrol and transported to the Charlotte County Jail and charged with DUI manslaughter.
Prummell says this is Smith's second arrest for DUI and she just completed her probation in August.