While pursing a felon who was fleeing law enforcement on Interstate 95 in Port St. Lucie on Friday, February 2, Trooper Zachary Fink, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, was killed.
Reckless driving claims two Lives
According to FHP Colonel Gary Howze II, the events leading to the fatal collision began at approximately 2:40am when a St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy made contact with the Kia on West Midway Road.
“The vehicle is driving reckless, at least twice the legal speed limit. A deputy attempted to do a traffic stop and as she approached, the vehicle took off. A short pursuit ensued, after which the deputy disengaged,” Howze said.
The driver of the Kia continued to flee, and at 2:48am, Trooper Zachary Fink saw the Kia speeding southbound on I-95 and attempted to stop the vehicle. While Fink was behind the Kia, the driver, 30-year-old Michael Addison of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, made a u-turn and began traveling in the wrong direction on the interstate. Fink continued trying to apprehend the subject, turning with the vehicle, and unfortunately turned into the path of a tractor trailer, which struck the left side of his patrol car. Howze said the unidentified truck driver died at the scene, while Trooper Fink was transported to HCA Florida Woodlawn Hospital where he died of his injuries.
Driver apprehended after crash and escape attempt
Addison continued driving in the wrong direction on I-95, despite multiple deputies and troopers giving chase. Eventually, the car struck a tree and ran off the road. The suspect fled on foot, and was apprehended later that morning about two miles from where Trooper Zachary Fink crashed.
Trooper Zachary Fink mourned by Law Enforcement Community
Early Friday morning, law enforcement officers from around the region began to arrive at the hospital in response to the death of an officer in the line of duty. Later, a procession of more than 40 law enforcement vehicles with flashing lights followed the ambulance as it left the hospital campus to make its way to the funeral home. Trooper Zachary Fink was a three-year highway patrol veteran, who started in Orlando before transferring to his hometown in the Port. St. Lucie area. He is survived by his parents and fiancée.
“We intend to hold the Defendant fully accountable for the lives he’s taken and the immeasurable pain he has caused. The Florida Highway Patrol, as well as the loved ones and friends of both Trooper Fink and the driver of the semi-truck, acknowledge that this is not the end of the loss suffered,” said David M. Kerner, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “Trooper fink gave his life to hold the Defendant accountable and keeping our community safe from harm, and we will work to ensure Trooper Fink’s intent is accomplished.”
Does the family of Trooper Zachary Fink have a potential Wrongful Death case?
Whether the family of Trooper Fink has a potential case against the trucking company depends on several factors. Here is some of the information a Florida personal injury lawyer might use to analyze the case and determine if there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit:
Negligence of the Trucking Company
The attorney would need to investigate the truck driver’s actions and maintenance of the truck to determine if there was any negligence that contributed to the accident. This could include factors like:
Was the truck driver speeding or driving recklessly?
Was the truck properly maintained and in safe working order?
Did the driver have adequate training and experience?
Did the company have any policies or procedures in place that could have prevented the accident?
- Even if the truck driver wasn’t directly negligent, the trucking company could be held liable for their actions under the doctrine of vicarious liability. This means that employers are responsible for the actions of their employees while they are on the job.
Information needed for a case
A personal injury lawyer will also need to consider the following:
- This would provide details about the accident scene, witness statements, and any initial findings from law enforcement.
Truck driver’s employment records and training
- This could help determine if the driver was qualified and properly trained.
Truck maintenance records
- These records would show if the truck was in good working order and had been properly maintained.
Expert witness testimony
- Depending on the specific circumstances, experts in accident reconstruction, trucking safety, or law enforcement procedures might be needed to provide testimony.
While it’s impossible to say definitively whether the family of Trooper Fink has a case against the trucking company without a thorough investigation, the legal complexities involved are a clear indication that it will be crucial for the family to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can assess the specific details of the case and advise the family on their legal options.