DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) — An off-duty Polk County firefighter died early Saturday morning in a crash on I-4, according to officials.
Polk County Fire Rescue identified the victim as Brian Herr, a 41-year-old firefighter and paramedic from Wesley Chapel.
Herr was hired in March 2023 after relocating to Florida from Chicago. He is survived by his two sons and his mother.
“We are all grieving at the loss of Firefighter/Paramedic Heer who was just starting out on his career with Polk County Fire Rescue,” Fire Chief Hezedean A. Smith said in a statement. “Firefighter/Paramedic Herr was an outstanding member of this department. His teamwork and positive attitude shined tremendously during his short time with Polk County Fire Rescue. He will be greatly missed. Please keep his family and friends in your prayers.”
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Herr was driving on the westbound lanes of I-4 when he swerved to avoid a car that was about to enter the same lane as him at the same time.
“Herr swerved back into the inside lane, and the unknown vehicle swerved back to the outside lane,” the sheriff’s office said. “At this time, there is no evidence or indication there was any impact between the vehicles, and a witness behind the two vehicles confirmed that.”
Deputies said Herr’s vehicle began hydroplaning and spun into a large group of trees before catching on fire. He died at the scene.
The westbound lanes of I-4 were congested as first responders cleaned up the scene, but traffic began moving again at around 10:30 a.m.