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Brian LaVigne

Florida’s deputy killed in car crash days before retirement

A sheriff’s deputy in Florida was killed Monday by a suspect in a fatal car accident a few days before his retirement, authorities said.

Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, 54, was in a marked vehicle when a suspect who was being chased by deputies collided into his car at a high rate of speed, said the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

“Master Corporal Brian LaVigne has been a part of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office family since 1990,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We will never forget Master Corporal LaVigne for laying down his life in the line of duty or the response of his squad members who did everything they could to make sure that the individual responsible for his death was apprehended.”

On Monday afternoon, deputies answered two separate calls regarding a suspect who was behaving “erratically” at the Paddock Club Apartments in Brandon, Florida, about 13 miles east of Tampa.

The suspect, Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, was reported at about 3:42 p.m. for allegedly “throwing property out of his apartment window and front door,” according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies Michael Durig, Jr., and Adam Pautz attended the scene and talked to Garrett, but found no cause for arrest, the sheriff’s office said.

After less than two hours, the same two deputies talked to Garrett once again after he was reported by a neighbor and management for being “nude and acting erratically,” the office said. Deputies said that communicating with Garrett was unsuccessful, and the suspect allegedly became “combative” and struck one of the deputies multiple times.

In response, both deputies used their tasers but had no success, according to the office. Despite attempts to obstruct Garrett, the suspect fled the scene in his car, crashing through the apartment complex gate entrance.

Several witnesses reported the suspect hitting LaVigne’s marked car at a high rate of speed. Regardless of the rescue efforts by the responding deputies and first responders with the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, LaVigne because of his injuries, the office said.

Investigators are investigating the fatal accident, and charges against Garrett were yet to be determined.

LaVigne is survived by his wife and two adult children. One of his child is also a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

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