Florida sheriff’s deputy killed in road accident

Florida sheriff’s deputy killed in road accident

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida sheriff's deputy working an overnight shift to provide safety at a construction zone was hit and killed by a front end loader, officials said.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a Friday morning news conference that Pinellas County Sheriff s Deputy Michael Hartwick had started his shift shortly before the incident happened late Thursday on Interstate 275.

Victor Vazquez-Real, 35, fled the scene but was arrested early Friday, Gualtieri said.

The sheriff said that Hartwick had blocked the two in the southbound lanes of the interstate and was standing on the road's shoulder when he was struck by the front end loader traveling at about 20 mph. Gualtieri said Hartwick died instantly.

The sheriff said the construction worker continued driving for about a mile before stopping in a parking lot. He told another construction worker that he had killed a deputy. The sheriff said that the worker took Vasquez-Real's gear and hid it in a wooded area.

The sheriff said that Vazquez-Real will be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. The other construction worker is charged with accessory after the fact. It was not immediately known whether Vazquez-Real has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.

Hartwick had been with the agency for 19 years.

Gualtieri said Mike was a good guy, a good cop.