2 Putnam County deputies hospitalized after cruisers collide

Sheriff’s Office says deputies ‘have a long road to recovery’

Two deputies “have a long road to recovery” after a crash Tuesday evening on State Road 20, west of Motes Road, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the Putnam County deputies, ages 24 and 25, were responding to a call around 7:40 p.m. when their cruisers collided.

“This was a horrific crash -- certainly unlike others I’ve seen,” said Col. Joe Wells, with the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said both deputies were taken to a nearby hospital before they were airlifted to Orange Park Medical Center. The Highway Patrol described the deputies’ injuries as “serious but non-life-threatening.”

“One of the deputies suffered some internal injuries which was the initial emergency surgery that took place last night. That’s been taken care of. Both deputies have broken legs. One deputy has a broken wrist. And one has the most significant injury we’re the most concerned about but remain hopeful -- one of the deputies has a broken pelvis,” Wells said. “We do expect the recovery time for both deputies will be an extended period of time requiring physical therapy and other efforts.”

Wells told News4Jax on Wednesday that the deputies were up, alert and talking.

“I want to express my gratitude at the outpouring of care and concern our community had conveyed,” Sheriff Gator DeLoach said in a Facebook post. “Both will need continued prayers as they begin the long journey to recovery.”

While the names of the two deputies have not been disclosed, Wells said that both have been with the Sheriff’s Office for several years and one was a member of the SWAT team. He also said the two deputies are zone partners and best friends. Wells added that one of the deputies is set to be promoted next week.

“These are both deputy sheriffs with remarkable safety records, and every minute these two men are not on the streets of Putnam County, our citizens are suffering their absence,” Wells said.

A Highway Patrol report shows both deputies were wearing seat belts.

Investigators said the deputies were responding to a possible domestic incident, which started at a convenience store, when the crash occurred.

“They got additional information that the suspect in that call had not only taken the victim’s car, but the victim was now in the car with him, potentially in danger, as they traveled down the street,” Wells said.

Wells said both deputies eventually spotted the car traveling in the opposite direction.

“When the deputies were responding to this call for service, they were heading in the opposite direction of the potential suspect and victim,” Wells said. “At some point, trying to turn around and make contact with that vehicle to see exactly what they had going on and to bring this woman to safety, their car two cars made contact with each other which resulted in a crash.”

No other injuries were reported.

Investigators said the woman who was believed to be in danger, along with the other person involved in the incident, was located.

The Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, and the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the domestic incident that the deputies were responding to.

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