PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Tampa Bay community is mourning the tragic and untimely death of a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy. Officials say 30-year-old Deputy Michael Magli was killed in the line of duty while helping detain a suspected drunk driver.
It’s an emotional day for many people in Pinellas County. Deputy Magli leaves behind two young daughters and a wife. A beautiful memorial is set up with flowers and his picture outside of the sheriff’s administration building, honoring a man described as kind and loving. Pinellas County resident, Kevin Bryant, says “He was comforting, calm and a really great guy.”
Bryant is describing fallen Deputy Michael Magli. “He was a down to earth, very friendly guy,” said Bryant.
Back in December, Bryant called 9-1-1 because a man tried to hijack his wife’s car with both his wife and son inside. Bryant says everyone was unharmed and one of the officers who responded to his call was Deputy Magli. “My little boy, he was nine. He was there with us and of course, there’s all the cops and the action going on, he was pretty excited. Deputy Magli took the time to put him in his cruiser and show him what it was like.” Bryant says he talked with Deputy Magli for two hours. “He let me know he has two little girls and he was married and they were from here.”
Wednesday night, Bryant says he was coming home from work when he noticed an accident near his house. “I didn’t really know any of the details.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says officers were trying to catch a suspected drunk driver speeding along East Lake Road. Deputy Magli stopped in the median to attach a tire deflation device to help stop the car when the driver lost control of his truck and ran into Deputy Magli, killing him.
Bryant says, “It’s heartbreaking. My nine-year-old was there and he said, ‘Gosh, why did it have to be that cop?’ Looking out the view of a nine-year-old, you really don’t want it to be any cop, but his thing was ‘Why does it have to be that cop?'”
A procession was held Thursday afternoon in honor of Deputy Magli, as the community remembers a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice. “Just that two hour window that I was with him and talked to him, it made me a better person. It made a lasting impression,” said Bryant.
According to the officer down memorial page, Deputy Magli is the first officer to die in the line of duty with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspected drunk driver, 33-year-old, Robert Allen Holzaepfel, is now being charged with first degree murder and DUI manslaughter, among other charges. He had 16 felonies on his record and was out of jail on parole at the time of the crash.
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