A man who died with his wife in a head-on collision on Wednesday was a longtime veteran of the University of South Florida Police Department, the department announced today.

In a Facebook post, the department said Robert Staehle, 66, was an officer with USF for 30 years and retired in 2009.

"Together, Bob and Joan were very involved with family and spent time travelin," the post said. "They authored and illustrated children's books, and committed themselves to doing for others. By way of their association with Tampa Port Ministries, they assisted many international seafarers with spiritual and social support on their visits to the Port of Tampa."

The department said it had lost "a fine advocate; the community lost a sincere and compassionate caregiver, and many of us lost a great friend."

Stahele and his wife, Joan, were killed when his northbound van veered into the southbound lane of U.S. Hwy. 301 at Dead River Road, striking a tractor-trailer.

Staehle's 1999 Chrysler van caught fire after impact with the tractor-trailer, whose driver was not injured.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.