Pinellas County mourns death of deputy killed by drunk driver

Deputy+Michael+Magli

Deputy Michael Magli

Emma Guenther, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, a Pinellas County deputy was killed attempting to stop an intoxicated driver. At roughly 4:30 p.m, the sheriff’s office received a call about a person who was passed out in the driver’s seat of a white pickup truck. The fire department responded, but when they broke the windows to help, the driver sped away.

Deputies did not chase the driver but instead attempted a traffic stop. The driver then turned into a subdivision, hopped a median, and drove off again.

Next, the driver was swerving down East Lake Road at high speeds while being pursued by deputies. Deputy Michael Magli had parked in the median to set up stop sticks (used to deflate a vehicle’s tires). The driver then lost control of the vehicle, flipped over, and fatally pinned Magli under his cruiser.

The driver has since been identified as Robert Allen Holzaepfel, who has been convicted of 16 felonies and was out of jail on parole at the time of Magli’s death. He was uninjured in the collision and has since been arrested. Holzaepfel is now facing charges including murder, DUI manslaughter, and aggravated fleeing and eluding police.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Deputy Michael Magli was the first deputy in the agency’s history to lose his life on the job. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stated that, “Deputy Magli was trying to protect people, he was trying to keep others from being hurt. This guy who is driving like a maniac, drunk, reckless, is going to hurt somebody. So he (Magli) stepped up like cops do and tried keeping people from being hurt, and he lost his life in the process.”

The community has responded by honoring Magli for his services as well as offering condolences to his wife and children. He will be missed greatly and deserves to be recognized for his selflessness and putting his own life on the line to protect others.