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Courts / Law

Pinellas Sheriff's Deputy Killed By Apparent Drunk Driver

picture of deputy
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Magli, 30, was killed while attempting to stop a apparent drunk driver Wednesday afternoon.

A Bradenton man faces charges including first-degree murder and DUI manslaughter following a crash that killed Deputy Michael Magli, believed to be the first Pinellas County deputy to be killed in the line of duty.

A Bradenton man faces charges including first-degree murder following a vehicle crash that killed a deputy Wednesday afternoon.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says East Lake Fire Rescue responded at about 4:25 p.m. to a call about a man apparently passed out in a truck at East Lake Road and Forelock Road in unincorporated Tarpon Springs.

mug shot
Florida Department of Corrections
Robert Allen Holzaepfel, in an undated Florida Department of Corrections photo, is suspected of drunk driving in a Wednesday crash that killed a Pinellas Co. Sheriff's Deputy.

When Fire Rescue broke a window on the truck, the driver, Robert Allen Holzaepfel, 33, woke up and fled the scene.

At a Wednesday night press conference, Gualtieri said Holzaepfel’s driving was “extremely reckless and very dangerous.”

During the police pursuit southbound on East Lake Road, Deputy Michael Magli got out of his vehicle and was attempting to deploy a tire deflation device when Holzaepfel lost control of his truck and hit Magli, pinning him under his own cruiser and killing him.

Holzaepfel is being held without bond on several counts at the Pinellas County Jail, including first-degree murder and DUI manslaughter.

Magli, 30, had been with the Sheriff's Office since 2013. He's survived by a wife and two children.

According to the national Officer Down Memorial Page, he's believed to be the first Pinellas deputy killed in the line of duty.

"To say it's a tragedy is an understatement," Gualtieri said. "There's no words that can make any sense of it.

"He stepped up like cops do and tried to keep people from being hurt, and he lost his life in the process.

Gualtieri said Holzaepfel, whose address is listed in Bradenton but was believed to be homeless at the time of the crash, was driving under the influence and had his license suspended at the time of the crash, according to the sheriff's office.

He had 16 felonies on his record and was out of jail on parole. Gualtieri said he was driving on a suspended license.

East Lake Road reopened between Keystone Road and Forelock Road around noon.

Magli's body will be transported from the medical examiner's office to the Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Home in Holiday at 3 p.m.

The procession will travel eastbound on Ulmerton Road, north on U.S. 19, and east on Bartelt Road.

Motorists should expect intermittent traffic delays from 3-4:30 p.m.

Anyone who would like to observe the procession can do so north of Republic Drive on the east side of the road.

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