TITUSVILLE, Fla. – A Brevard County deputy died Saturday morning in a crash involving a semitruck partially filled with car parts, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers said Deputy Kevin Stanton, 32, was in his marked patrol vehicle driving to Viera to work his shift when the crash took place around 5:15 a.m. along southbound I-95 in Titusville, just north of State Road 50.
The 26-year-old driver of the semi was transported to a nearby hospital later for pain in his back, troopers said. His passenger was also taken to a hospital.
I-95 South was shut down following the crash, according to the Highway Patrol.
The Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash, but troopers said it appears that the tread on the front left truck tire separated, causing the tread to wrap around the axle and driver to lose control.
The driver immediately steered to the left and hit the back of Stanton's patrol car, according to the Highway Patrol.
Troopers said it was too early to know if the driver would face charges, but said, as of Saturday morning, the crash appeared to be an accident.
No other details about the crash were immediately released.
Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey called the incident a "horrific accident," and said Stanton's family, fellow deputies and first responders and community were mourning.
"You try and put your arms around it and think about the smiles you would see on Kevin's face, think about his passion for this job," Ivey said. "You think about the 1,500 members we have in this agency that are each, right now, gut-punched, that are each, right now, trying to grasp what happened."
The sheriff said he was especially hurting for the deputies, some of whom were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash.
"They managed the scene. They managed their emotions. As you look in their faces, you see the hurt, you see the pain that they're dealing with and you hurt for them," Ivey said.
Ivey held back tears as he spoke about Stanton's accomplishments during his more than 10 years of service with the agency.
Stanton was working as a field training officer, training new deputies on how to do their jobs safely, but had done some temporary work as an agent and was working toward earning a full-time agent position, the sheriff said.
Deputies said Stanton had received numerous letters of commendation and commendable service awards, and was nominated for a Life Saving Award.
The sheriff said he is working with Stanton's family to get through the tragedy and help in any way they can.
“You’re on the road a lot in our job and accidents happen, and we’re just trying to help them all get through it," Ivey said. "And it will be tough, but together we’ll get through it.”
Ivey said funeral plans were still being made, but would be announced once they were in place.
Law enforcement officers from nearby agencies expressed their condolences Saturday to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
Thoughts and prayers go out to all members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the family of the fallen Sheriff’s Deputy who was tragically killed this morning in a traffic crash on Interstate 95.— Titusville Police FL (@TitusvillePD) February 17, 2018
Our hearts are heavy for the men and women of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the family of a deputy who died in the line of duty in an early-morning traffic crash on I-95. Thank you for your service and sacrifice to keep us all safe. #BCSO— Seminole County S.O. (@SeminoleSO) February 17, 2018
Sending our thoughts and prayers to our family at the Brevard County SO...we are sorry for your loss. pic.twitter.com/lqzokzP4Pb— St.Cloud Police Dept (@StCloudPD) February 17, 2018
Our condolences go out to the family and colleagues of Brevard County Deputy Kevin Stanton,killed Saturday on I-95 as he headed in to work.— Daytona Beach Police (@DaytonaBchPD) February 18, 2018
We are grieving with you. https://t.co/IGG4UXhfr8— Sheriff John Mina (@SheriffMina) February 18, 2018
Gov. Rick Scott also offered his condolences.
"Ann and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Brevard County Field Training Officer Kevin Stanton this morning. We pray that his family, fellow officers and loved ones find comfort in knowing that Officer Stanton will be remembered as a decorated officer and hero. While we saw firsthand the bravery of our law enforcement officers during and after the tragic shooting in Parkland this week, we must remember that Florida’s law enforcement officers make the incredible decision to put their lives on the line every day to protect families across our state. I ask that all Floridians take the time to thank their law enforcement officers for their service and also pause to honor the sacrifice of every fallen officer who lost their lives as they courageously served our state.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement Sunday regarding the loss of Deputy Stanton:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Deputy Kevin Stanton and my heart breaks for his family, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and our entire law enforcement community. Law enforcement officers wake up every day not knowing what dangers lie ahead—yet they still choose to serve. Deputy Stanton died a hero, and our state is better because of brave men and women like him.”
A candlelight vigil will be held in honor of Deputy Stanton at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Sand Point Park in Titusville.