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Charlotte County deputy killed in suspected drunk driving crash on I-75; woman arrested

A 30-year-old woman from Massachusetts was arrested and charged.

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Deputy Christopher Taylor, 23, of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office died from his injuries following a suspected drunk driving crash Tuesday evening on Interstate 75.

He had just celebrated his birthday on Saturday, Nov. 19, according to the sheriff.

Taylor stopped his SUV in the northbound lanes south of U.S. 17 just before 9 p.m. after pulling over another driver on the highway, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release.

While Taylor and the stopped driver stood on the shoulder, another SUV approached from behind.

Troopers say that vehicle, driven by 30-year-old Cassandra Smith of Lakeville, Massachusetts, veered from the left lane, crossed the center and right lanes and entered the shoulder.

Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff's Office
Cassandra Smith

The SUV crashed into the back of the deputy's SUV, which hit Taylor and the other person.

Taylor was taken to ShorePoint Health Punta Gorda for treatment but died from his injuries, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said in a video message on Facebook.

Smith was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter following the crash.

"In his little less than a year of service to Charlotte County, Chris exemplified the core values of the CCSO; Integrity, Professionalism, and Trust," Prummell said in a statement later Wednesday afternoon. "Chris just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday. Losing a deputy is unspeakably difficult for the agency, but the passing of such a promising and kind young man is a tremendous loss for the world."

Sheriff Prummell confirms heartbreaking news about the loss of one of our deputies. Please pray for the family, friends, and all his law enforcement family who stand behind him. Additional updates will be available soon.

Posted by Charlotte County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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