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Charlotte County deputy killed in line of duty; driver involved facing DUI manslaughter charges

Braun, Michael
Deputy Chris Taylor, who died after he was hit by an driver allegedly under the influence Tuesday night, joined the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office in August 2021 and was officially sworn in on February 14.

A Charlotte County Sheriff's Office deputy was struck by a suspected drunk driver Tuesday night and later died from his injuries.

Deputy Christopher Taylor, 23, was outside his sheriff's unit and speaking with a driver at a traffic stop on I-75 near Jones Loops Road in Punta Gorda when another vehicle lost control.

The Sheriff's Office said the driver of the other vehicle, Cassandra Smith, 30, was driving at a high rate of speed and struck Taylor's vehicle, pushing the unit into the deputy.

Smith called 911 after losing control of her jeep and veering across three lanes into the shoulder before striking the deputy's vehicle.

Life-saving measures were given to Taylor at the scene of the crash and he was trauma-transported to ShorePoint Health in Punta Gorda where he died.

Smith was taken into custody by Florida Highway Patrol and transported to the Charlotte County Jail facing charges of DUI manslaughter.

"In his little less than a year of service to Charlotte County, Chris exemplified the core values of the CCSO; Integrity, Professionalism, and Trust. Chris just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday," Sheriff Bill Prummell said. "Losing a deputy is unspeakably difficult for the agency, but the passing of such a promising and kind young man is a tremendous loss for the world."

Deputy Taylor joined the agency in August of 2021 and was officially sworn in on February 14. He is survived by his parents and fiancé.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.