LADY LAKE, Fla. – A Lake County sheriff's deputy suffered serious head injuries early Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle while protecting a man he was investigating in an attempted car burglary, officials said.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office said Deputy Austin Pringle, 27, was in stable condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Captain Todd English with LCSO recalled the early morning phone call he got about the crash.
"It's a horrific phone call to get. Everything runs through your mind at that point," English said.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Pringle was on his way home just before daybreak after his shift ended when he heard a call on the radio about an attempted car burglary in the Lady Lake area.
The report said multiple culprits tried to break into a car before running away, officials said.
Pringle drove along Grays Airport Road, where he noticed a man walking alone, so he pulled over to investigate, deputies said.
"When he was out talking with that individual, he was struck by a vehicle, a passing motorist unrelated to the investigation," English said.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the woman said she saw the headlights of the vehicle and slowed down, but didn't know it was a patrol car.
Pringle suffered serious head injuries and was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center. The other victim, a 22-year-old Leesburg man, suffered an injury to his leg and was taken to Leesburg Regional Medical Center.
The Sheriff's Office said Pringle will be held in the hospital overnight for observation.
"What's important, in my opinion, by the grace of God he's going to be okay and he's going to continue to go out there and serve the citizens of Lake County," English said.
According to the man, Pringle attempted to push him out of the way as the Camaro was about to strike them, officials said.
Family members of the other victim said he was still in the hospital with serious injuries to his leg and arm as of Wednesday afternoon.
The woman driving the Camaro was not injured, and alcohol did not play a role in the crash, the Florida Highway Patrol said. It's not known if she faces any charges.
Pringle, of Sorrento, has been with the Lake County Sheriff's Office since November 2016.
"What's impressive about him is he is always smiling. He is always positive. That's a great quality, a great trait, and we know we've got the right man working here in Lake County to serve the citizens," English said.
Officials did not say whether the man who was struck had any connection to the attempted car burglary, and no information has been released about the driver who struck the pair.
The FHP is investigating the crash.