PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida bill filed on Dec. 19 seeks to dedicate a portion of I-275 in Pinellas County to Deputy Sheriff Michael Hartwick, who died while on duty in September 2022.

The bill, filed under HB 63, would designate a stretch of I-275 in Pinellas County as the Deputy Sheriff Michael Hartwick Memorial Highway.

On Tuesday, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Linda Chaney (R-District 61), passed through the House Transportation and Modals Subcommittee.

If given the ultimate approval, the designation would go into effect beginning July 1, 2023.

Deputy Hartwick, a 51-year-old father, was working a traffic detail in a construction zone when he was struck by a front-end loader with a forklift. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the front-end loader, which was used to lift concrete barriers, was traveling about 20 mph when it struck the deputy.

Hartwick died instantly.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said the forklift operator, later identified as 32-year-old Juan Ariel Molina Salles, was in the country illegally at the time of the incident.

Deputies said the Salles continued driving about a quarter of a mile before he pulled into a parking area, got out of the vehicle, and ran off on foot. Salles was previously denied entry to the U.S. by Border Patrol at the U.S.-Mexican border and was sent back.

“He came back in through the Texas border, he is here illegally, and he’s been here in the Tampa Bay area since March of this year,” Gualtieri said at the time of the man’s arrest.

Molina-Salles admitted to running away because he was afraid he killed Hartwick. According to Sheriff Gualtieri, Salles did not have a driver’s license and should not have been driving or working in the country.