CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — While the exact day and time are a little fuzzy, Brian Hoxie remembers the series of events like it was yesterday.
“The number one word that we often use to describe situations like this is, ‘It was wild,'” Hoxie said.
The Clearwater police officer was on patrol in April 2021 with the street crimes unit.
“It was pretty crazy,” Hoxie recalled. “His vehicle was pushed from the center lane all the way to basically the curb lane.”
Hoxie’s partner pulled over a car on US-19.
“As I was driving to him,” Hoxie recounted. “He called out on the radio that a car had just struck the back of his patrol vehicle.”
The word Hoxie had for the scene he arrived to: carnage. A white pick-up truck wrecked the Tahoe Hoxie’s partner was driving.
“It was demolished,” Hoxie said. “It looked like an accordion. The entire trunk of the car was pushed in.”
While Hoxie’s partner was out of the Tahoe at the time and ended up being safe, the 71-year-old driver of the pick-up died at the scene in Hoxie’s arms.
The cruel irony of the tragedy — Hoxie and his partner were out targeting move over violations that day.
“When you see lights on the side of the road,” said Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Gaskins. “No matter pretty much whatever color they are, that’s somebody communicating to you that, ‘Hey, there’s a problem here, there’s an issue, there’s a hazard.'”
January is Move Over Awareness Month. The ‘Move Over Law’ was passed in 2002 and upgraded over the last two decades. It says drivers must move over for any flashing lights. If you can’t move over, you have to slow down to 20 miles per hour under the posted limit.
“Hundreds of officers and first responders over the years,” Gaskins said. “Hurt, killed, maimed. And we’re trying to avoid that.”
That could have easily been Hoxie or his partner on that fateful day two years ago.
“It’s still hard to deal with for us,” Hoxie said. “Because it was in fallout from what we were doing.”