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Fla. Deputy Killed in Crash, Responding As Back-Up


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April 26, 2004

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Fla. Deputy Killed in Crash, Responding As Back-Up

Officer Down: Brian Andrew Haas - [LaBelle, Florida]


A Hendry County, Fla. Sheriff's deputy died early Saturday after his patrol car rear-ended a truck while on his way to a call.

Deputy Brian Andrew Haas, 21, was responding as a back-up officer to a prowler call in Montura, a remote community between LaBelle and Clewiston, sheriff's Sgt. Susan Harrelle said.

The crash occurred around 3:20 a.m. on State Route 25, about 5 miles north of Clewiston. Haas was traveling northbound "at high speed" in the outside lane when he overtook a 2000 Kenworth truck driven by Donnie Haithcock, 48, of South Bay, Florida Highway Patrol officials said.

The right front of Haas' cruiser hit the left rear of the truck, causing the car to overturn several times and ejecting Haas. He was not wearing a seat belt. Haithcock was treated for minor injuries at Hendry Regional Hospital, according to FHP.

Haas had been a deputy for fewer than five months. He began his career with the sheriff's office as a corrections officer in August 2002.

But his life's passion turned to becoming a deputy, said former Lt. James Boone, who took Haas on ride-alongs when he was thinking about becoming a deputy.

"After he rode, he just fell totally in love with it," said Boone, now a candidate for Hendry County sheriff. "He was going to be helping people."

Haas graduated from the academy and transferred to road patrol on Dec. 1, 2003.

"He just loved the job," Boone said. "He loved knowing he was doing something."

He is the second Southwest Florida officer killed in an on-duty accident in the past year.

In October, Fort Myers Police officer Daniel Starks died after his car collided with another patrol car during a police chase.

Sheriff's officials were in shock this weekend.

"We are dealing and coping with the loss of a fellow officer," Harrelle said.

Boone said Hendry County lost an officer who loved helping people.

"He was a real good kid and he had the heart to be a real good officer," he said.

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at the LaBelle Civic Center.



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