By PoliceOne Staff
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — A Hernando County Sheriff's deputy was killed Sunday in an automobile accident.
Officers from the Brooksville Police Department had started pursuing a vehicle on U.S. Highway 41 before they were joined by deputies. Deputy John Mecklenburg, 35, followed the car into Pasco County when his cruiser left the roadway and struck a tree, according to ODMP.
The cruiser caught fire upon impact, but other officers were able to extinguish the flames. Deputy Mecklenburg was flown to a hospital in Tampa where he succumbed to his injuries.
At a news conference Sunday, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said the entire sheriff's office was hurting over Mecklenburg's death.
"Deputies know everyday when they put the uniform on that they may have to give their life in the pursuit of justice," Nienhuis said.
Deputy Mecklenburg was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office for two years. He is survived by his wife and two young children.
The driver of the vehicle, Michael James Anthony, 35, of Silver Springs, was arrested by members of the Florida Highway Patrol after being pursued through four counties.
The sheriff's office will take care of the Mecklenburg family in its time of need and help plan funeral arrangements, Nienhuis said.