UPDATED: Charlotte County deputy killed in DUI crash while conducting a traffic stop, deputies say

Melissa Pérez-Carrillo
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor, 23, was conducting a traffic stop Tuesday night when a DUI driver crashed into him and the driver he pulled over.

A 23-year-old Charlotte County Sheriff's deputy was conducting a traffic stop Tuesday night when a DUI driver crashed into him and the driver he pulled over, sheriff's officials said. 

Deputy Christopher Taylor had emergency equipment activated and was standing with the 29-year-old man who was pulled over outside his Honda at 8:45 p.m. They were standing on the shoulder of the road northbound on Interstate 75 when the crash happened. 

"In his little less than a year of service to Charlotte County, Chris exemplified the core values of the CCSO: integrity, professionalism, and trust," Sheriff Bill Prummell said in a Facebook post. "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."

Cassandra Smith, 30, was driving a Jeep, traveling north on I-75, south of US-17. She lost control of the car and veered from the left lane. She crossed the center/right lanes, driving onto the northbound paved shoulder at a high rate of speed.

The driver collided with the rear of the deputy’s unoccupied Sheriff’s Office SUV, which caused a secondary collision with the pulled-over driver, the deputy, and the Honda, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol. 

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The deputy was transported to an area hospital and was later pronounced dead, and the pulled-over driver was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. The passenger that was with him didn't sustain any injuries. 

"Sheriff Prummell confirms heartbreaking news about the loss of one of our deputies after being fatally struck by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop on I-75," sheriff officials said on Twitter. "Please pray for the family, friends, and all his law enforcement family who stand behind him."

Smith had no injuries. She was arrested for DUI manslaughter and booked into the Charlotte County Jail. This is her second DUI arrest, and she had just finished probation for the previous DUI in August, Prummell said.