PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The stretch of East Lake Road between Forelock Road and Keystone Road in northern Pinellas County is now called Deputy Michael J. Magli Memorial Road.
Dozens of deputies, police officers, family members, and friends attended a dedication ceremony Thursday that took place nearby Brooker Creek Elementary School.
Deputy Magli was the first Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputy to be killed in the line of duty in the agency’s 109-year history.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told those in attendance that Magli died a hero, protecting the public.
“He stood between evil and innocent to save lives. Michael was in the right place at the right time and he did just that,” said Gualtieri. “He saved the lives of kids going to sports practices, moms and dads on their way home from work, and countless others who would have been at the wrong place at the wrong time if it had not been for Michael Magli putting himself in harm’s way to stop this maniac drunk.”
Deputy Magli died on Feb. 17.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says 33-year-old Robert Holzaepfel was being chased by deputies in the area of East Lake Road and Forelock Road when he lost control of his truck and hit Deputy Magli, who was in a median retrieving and deploying stop sticks. The collision pinned Magli under his cruiser, killing him. Holzaepfel is now charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding a police officer, DUI manslaughter, felony driving while license suspended or revoked, and murder in the third degree.
Deputy Magli’s widow, Stephanie, and two young daughters attended the road dedication. Stephanie says support from the community and sheriff’s office has been amazing.
“I tell the sheriff all the time, I wouldn’t be standing on my own two feet if it wasn’t for him, if it wasn’t for the agency,” she said. “They’ve watched us, they’ve looked out after us, they’ve protected us. They’ve been there to support me, to support the girls.”
She says seeing her husband’s name on that sign will mean he will never be forgotten.
“The fact that he will forever be remembered means so much for me and my girls,” she said. “We call this the daddy road when we drive on it.”