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Hero Down: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Taylor Killed By Suspected Drunk Driver

Charlotte County, FL – Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Deputy Christopher “Chris” Taylor died in the line of duty on last week after being hit by a suspected drunk driver as he was conducting a traffic stop.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said the incident began when the 23-year-old deputy stopped a vehicle on I-75 northbound, south of U.S. 17, at approximately 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 22, WWSB reported.

Deputy Taylor parked his patrol SUV on the paved shoulder with his emergency lights activated and got out to speak with the driver of the Honda he had stopped, according to WBBH.

The Honda driver and the deputy were both standing on the shoulder of the interstate when a woman driving a Jeep in the left lane allegedly lost control, veered over the center and right lanes, and slammed into the back of the patrol SUV that was parked on the paved shoulder, the FHP said.

The impact shoved the SUV into the driver of the Honda, Deputy Taylor, and the Honda, according to WBBH.

Police said the Honda driver suffered minor injuries in the collision and was transported to the hospital for treatment.

A passenger in the Honda was not injured, according to WFTV.

Deputy Taylor suffered major injuries in the crash.

“Life-saving measures were given on the scene by good Samaritans and later by Taylor’s brothers and sisters in green,” the CCSO said, according to Sun News Media. “Deputy Taylor was trauma transported to Punta Gorda ShorePoint Health and regrettably succumbed to his injuries.”

The Jeep driver who caused the collision has been identified as 30-year-old Cassandra Smith, WBBH reported.

Smith, who hails from Lakeville, Massachusetts, was not injured in the crash, according to WWSB.

She has been arrested for DUI manslaughter and was being held at the Charlotte County Jail.

According to court records, Smith was arrested for another DUI offense in Palm Beach County in 2021, WBBH reported.

She had just wrapped up a probationary term in August in connection with that conviction, according to Sun News Media.

Judge Geoffrey Gentile took her prior conviction into consideration and ultimately ordered that Smith be held without bond until her arraignment hearing on Jan. 3, 2023.

“Nothing blows up and stops somebody from getting in the car after they’ve drank,” Gentile said. “So, I can’t protect the community. She’s shown twice that she will do that in very short order.”

Deputy Taylor celebrated his 23rd birthday just days before his death, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said, according to WBBH.

“Chris exemplified the core values of the CCSO; Integrity, Professionalism, and Trust,” Sheriff Prummell added. “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.”

Deputy Taylor served the CCSO for 15 months, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

He leaves behind his fiancé, as well as his parents.

“Chris may have been an only child, but our countless brothers and sisters – many right here in the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office – will mourn him,” Sheriff Prummell said, according to WFTX.

Deputy Taylor will be laid to rest on Nov. 30.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher “Chris” Taylor, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy Chris Taylor, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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