Vehicles driven by a sheriff’s deputy and a correctional officer crashed into each other Sunday morning, killing both in Hardee County, southeast of Tampa.
Sheriff’s Deputy Julie Bridges, a 13-year veteran of the force, had been stationed in an evacuation shelter overnight and was driving home at about 6 a.m. to pick up more supplies when the crash occurred, Sheriff Arnold Lanier said.
Sgt. Joseph Ossman, who had worked in the Florida Department of Corrections for 21 years, was on his way to work, according to a statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).
Both were the only occupants of their vehicles.
Lanier said it was “wet, windy, and raining” when Bridges left the shelter, but that conditions were still considered safe for driving.
Residents of low-lying areas of Hardee were urged but not forced to evacuate.
Asked about the officers’ deaths at a news conference early Sunday afternoon, Scott said decisions about when to pull law enforcement off the roads were being made at the local level.
“I am heartbroken to learn of the loss of these the two individuals,” he said in a statement.