Florida sheriff’s deputy killed in on-duty car crash days before retirement
A sheriff’s deputy in Florida was killed Monday by a suspect in a fatal car accident a few days before his retirement, authorities said.
Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, 54, was in a marked vehicle when a suspect who was being chased by deputies crashed into his car at a “high rate of speed,” according to a press release by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“Master Corporal Brian LaVigne has been a part of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office family since 1990,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “We will never forget Master Corporal LaVigne for laying down his life in the line of duty or the response of his squad members who did everything they could to ensure that the individual responsible for his death was apprehended.”
On Monday afternoon, deputies responded to two separate calls about a suspect who was behaving “erratically” at the Paddock Club Apartments in Brandon, Florida, about 13 miles east of Tampa, according to the HCSO.
The suspect, Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, was initially reported at about 3:42 p.m. for allegedly “throwing property out of his apartment window and front door,” according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies Michael Durig, Jr., and Adam Pautz arrived at the scene and spoke to Garrett, but found no cause for arrest, the sheriff’s office said.
Less than two hours later, the same two deputies spoke to Garrett again after he was reported by a neighbor and management for being “nude and acting erratically,” the office said. According to the deputies, communicating with Garrett was unsuccessful, and the suspect allegedly became “combative” and struck one of the deputies multiple times.
In response, both deputies used their tasers “without success,” according to the office. Despite attempts to block Garrett, the suspect fled the scene in his car, crashing through the apartment complex gate entrance, the office said.
Several witnesses reported the suspect crashing into LaVigne’s marked car “at a high rate of speed,” according to the sheriff’s office. Despite rescue efforts by the responding deputies and first responders with the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, LaVigne died from his injuries, the office said.
Investigators are looking into the fatal accident, and charges against Garrett were yet to be determined.
LaVigne is survived by his wife and two adult children — one of whom is also a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.