PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Officers in Pinellas County Thursday saluted the body of the deputy killed while trying to stop a suspected drunk driver on East Lake Road.
A procession escorted the body of Deputy Michael Magli from the Medical Examiner’s Office in Pinellas County to the Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Home in Holiday Thursday afternoon.
An American flag was draped over the fallen hero as fellow deputies saluted.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy Magli was hit and killed by a truck around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on East Lake Road and Forelock Road.
He is the first deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to be killed in the line of duty.
According to deputies, Magli was helping officers chase a suspected drunk driver and had stopped in the median of the road to retrieve and deploy stop sticks. The driver, 33-year-old Robert Allen Holzaepfel, lost control of his truck and hit Magli, pinning him under his patrol vehicle.
Authorities said Holzaepfel was driving under the influence and on a suspended license. He was arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage with more charges pending.
Deputies said Holzaepfel has 16 prior felony convictions and was on probation at the time of the crash.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Deputy Magli leaves behind a wife and two young children. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support his family.
Outside the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, there is a growing memorial for Deputy Magli. On Thursday people stopped to leave flowers at the site.
Former New York police officer Raul Fernandez is one of many who stood out of respect on U.S. 19 as the procession carrying deputy Magli’s body passed by.
“It’s a tragedy, I think of his children that he’s leaving behind,” Fernandez said.
Jeremy Davis also spent hours at the memorial waving a thin blue line flag to show his support.
“Just showing my respect. My family is big in law enforcement. My wife is a corporal here for Pinellas County, so just showing my respect today to a fallen brother, a son, a father, a very young father with a family at home just like myself,” Davis said.
Others watching the procession are left wondering how this could happen.
“I was devastated,” Victoria Vangeli said. “I got it on my phone, the notification, and my family found out and it was really hard.”
Funeral arrangements for Deputy Magli are still in the works.