April 27, 2004
Florida Trooper Dies In Wreck
Officer Down: George "Andy" Brown - [Lake City, Florida]
By JUSTIN LANG
The Lake City-based Florida Highway Patrol Troop B lost one of its own Tuesday when a trooper was killed in a fatal wreck after chasing another vehicle.
"It's a sad day for the FHP," said Col. Chris Knight, director of the agency.
Knight identified the dead trooper as Sgt. George "Andy" Brown, 55, a 33-year veteran of the FHP and Lake City resident. Brown's death occurred shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Brown is survived by a 13-year-old son, his mother, father and a sister. His father, George A. Brown Jr., was also a career FHP trooper.
According to Knight, Brown was attempting to overtake and pull over a dark-colored Plymouth Neon on Sisters Welcome Road near County Road 242 in Columbia County for an unspecified violation.
Knight said Brown's vehicle, a 2001 FHP Chevrolet Camaro, went off the east shoulder of Sisters Welcome Road. Brown lost control and began to spin counter-clockwise, entering the woods off the roadway and striking several trees.
The patrolman was pronounced dead at the scene. Knight said damage to the vehicle was severe and that speed would be a factor in contributing to his death.
Brown was the 38th FHP trooper killed in the line of duty and the agency's first death since 1998, when a Troop C patrolman was shot and killed while on duty in Tampa.
Following a "be on the lookout" notice put out to law enforcement statewide for the Neon, Knight said a white male driver and female passenger were taken into custody in Citrus County by its sheriff's office after a brief pursuit.
Knight said the driver and passenger of the Neon were being questioned by the FHP Tuesday afternoon and no charges had been filed. He said his agency would conduct a preliminary investigation, interview the vehicle's occupants and work with the State Attorney's Office.
Shortly after the wreck, the Lake City Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff's Office and FHP closed a 1/2-mile stretch of Sisters Welcome Road from Kicklighter Terrace to C.R. 242.
On the north end, a sheriff's deputy turned away a constant stream of motorists, many with questions about why they couldn't get through and what had happened. The road remained closed through the afternoon.
George Skinner, county commissioner and co-owner of Plaza Barbers, went out to the scene of the wreck shortly after it happened.
"I'm devastated," he said. "He was a personal friend of mine. I just cut his hair last Saturday. I'm going to sorely miss him. My spirit is sorely wounded."
Both the FHP and Skinner had nothing but praise for Brown, a second generation trooper, who first started with the agency on July, 6 1970.
"His services were exemplary," Skinner said. "He was a trooper's trooper. He gave 110 percent in whatever he did."
Knight was joined at the Lake City FHP office by nine other troopers from both Troop B and around the state.
"Not only in Lake City, he was one of the top troopers in the state," he responded to a reporter's question on Brown's service. "Andy was a worker."
In addition to his duties as a trooper, Brown was Troop B's "Bear in the Air," flying an FHP plane stationed at Lake City Municipal Airport over local highways to help curb speeding in the area.
"He truly had the safety of the public at heart," said Lt. Mike Burroughs, Troop B public information officer. "He truly believed in enforcing traffic laws."
Burroughs said Brown was a "very professional, motivated, detail-oriented trooper," who loved his job so much he rejoined the agency in 1997 after retiring the year before.
"He tried retirement and he didn't like it, so he came back with us," Burroughs said.
Brown was known among Troop B for both his high activity level and how well-groomed he kept himself and his FHP vehicle, according to Burroughs.
Last year, a memorial monument for all of Columbia
County's fallen public safety officers was erected after Sheriff's Office deputy Jeff Davis died as a result of injuries sustained in an on-duty wreck in 2002.
"We just have to add another name," Skinner said, his voice trailing off.
Andy Brown had previously served for FHP troops E, D and G.