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Florida congressman dies after being hit by vehicle on I-75; Massachusetts driver arrested for drunk driving

Courtesy: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Florida police officers arrested a Massachusetts woman on charges of involuntary manslaughter by DUI after a Charlotte County deputy was assaulted and killed late Tuesday night.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said Deputy Christopher Taylor was in the middle of a holdup on I-75 near the Duncan Road exit when he was struck by another vehicle. The driver was identified as 30-year-old Cassandra Smith of Lakeville, Massachusetts.

Cassandra Smith’s mug shot. Courtesy: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Lifesaving measures were taken at the scene by Good Samaritans and later by other deputies, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. The 23-year-old deputy was taken to ShorePoint Health Punta Gorda and later died.

Sheriff Prummell said Deputy Taylor joined the sheriff’s office in August 2021 and was formally sworn in in February of this year.

Courtesy: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

“Chris just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday,” Sheriff Prummell said. “Losing a deputy is incredibly difficult for the agency, but the death of such a promising and kind young man is a tremendous loss to the world.”

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Based on the investigation to date, officers said Smith was traveling north on I-75 when she lost control of her Jeep, veered off the left lane and onto the paved northbound shoulder. There she collided with the rear of Deputy Taylor’s squad car, which was parked during a traffic stop. Police said the vehicle’s emergency equipment was on.

Courtesy: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith called 911 after she lost control of her Jeep and hit the deputy, Charlotte County lawmakers said. Smith was taken into custody by FHP soldiers and taken to the Charlotte County Jail for involuntary manslaughter by DUI.

Courtesy: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

A third vehicle, a Honda, was parked in front of the patrol car during the traffic stop. That driver, a 29-year-old man from Haines City, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The passenger, a 28-year-old man, was not injured. It’s unclear whether the deputy or the Polk County man were outside of their vehicles at the time of the accident.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has not yet released details of Deputy Taylor’s services.

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