Hardee County deputy, corrections officer killed in head-on crash

Veteran deputy was leaving hurricane shelter; officer was headed to work

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two Florida law enforcement officers died Sunday morning in a two-car crash while the state made final preparations for Hurricane Irma.

Florida Highway Patrol responded to the two-vehicle collision on State Road 66 at Old Crewsville Road in Hardee County at 6:46 a.m.

While it's unclear if the two-vehicle crash was directly storm-related, one of the victims, Hardee County Deputy Julie Ann Bridges was heading home after working at a local hurricane shelter. According to the Sheriff's Office, Bridges, a 13-year veteran of the agency, was driving home to pick up items and return to the shelter.

Sgt. Joseph Ossman, who worked at the Hardee County Correctional Institute, also died in the crash. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, he was driving to work at the time.

Investigators said Ossman was driving west on S.R. 66 approaching Old Crewsville Road, while Bridges, who was driving a marked patrol car, was driving east. The vehicles hit each other head-on.

It’s unclear if the incoming weather caused the crash. FHP said they are still investigating.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hardee County Sheriff's Department, the Florida Department of Corrections and their families,” FHP said in a statement.

"Our law enforcement and correctional officers work every day to keep Floridians safe," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "It is because of their work we are able to live in a state where people can raise their families safely. My heart goes out their families and the entire law enforcement and correctional community."