As Clay County deputy remains hospitalized, co-workers pray for miracle

Traffic Deputy Ben Zirbel critically injured in crash while on duty


CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – As a Clay County sheriff's deputy remains in critical condition after being involved in a crash while on duty, his brothers in blue are praying that he recovers.

Traffic Deputy Ben Zirbel was riding his Clay County Sheriff's Office motorcycle Sunday morning when, authorities said, he collided with a pickup truck towing a trailer at Blanding Boulevard and Camp Francis Johnson Road.

Zirbel, a 12-year veteran of the agency, was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, where he was in critical condition as of Monday. 

A fellow deputy is with him at all times at the hospital, while Zirbel's closest partners are with his family.

Deputy Claude Hurley, with the Sheriff's Office Motor Unit, told News4Jax the entire department is praying for a miracle.

"No one really knows what's going to happen next," Hurley said.

The coworker describes Zirbel, a husband and the father of one child, as a "great guy."

"He was always there when you needed him," Hurley said. "He would do anything for you. Everybody here likes Ben."

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a man driving a Dodge Dakota pulling a lawn trailer failed to yield the right of way and Zirbel's motorcycle collided with the trailer. The force of the impact threw Zirbel from his motorcycle.

"If I could say something to him, because I know that he’s a very faith-based person, very loving family person, first thought would be to tell him that your family loves you and cares about you," Hurley said. "(And) what you’re doing out here to serve the community won’t go unnoticed."

According to the Highway Patrol, charges are pending against the driver of the pickup truck, who is cooperating with investigators.

A VyStar Credit Union account has been set up for Zirbel and his family. The account number is 7507565803 and donations can be made at any branch. 

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