Cause of Death: Accidental
Additional Information: Officer Lawless had served with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for five years and was assigned to Broward County.
Incident Details: Officer Michelle Lawless was killed in an ATV accident in the Holeyland / Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area while on patrol for poachers between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Her ATV struck a metal gate and overturned, trapping her underneath.
After she failed to respond to a routine radio check for her location, another officer went to locate her and found her pinned beneath the vehicle. She was flown to a hospital in Delray where she succumbed to her injuries.
End of Watch: Saturday, October 27, 2007
Fl. wildlife officer succumbs to ATV accident injuries
Palm Beach Post Staff Report
TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission died Saturday night when her all terrain vehicle hit a gate during a routine patrol in the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area in Broward County.
Michelle Lawless, 47, had been working in the northwest corner of the management area near the L5 Canal and the Palm Beach county line when she apparently crashed into the gate, causing her to be ejected from the vehicle. Florida Highway Patrol in Broward is investigating the accident.
Lawless was airlifted to Delray Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Lawless had been with the conservation's Division of Law Enforcement since May of 2003.
"I graduated from the academy with her," said Jorge Pino, spokesman with the conservation commission.
After finishing the academy, she was assigned to Broward County, where she made sure alligators and other species in the Everglades were not targeted, specially at night.
"This is a painful loss to the entire agency, her family and friends," said Major Brett Norton, commander of law enforcement for the region.
Copyright 2007 Palm Beach Post