Flanked by officers from multiple agencies, the body of a law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty was escorted Thursday to a cemetery in the Orange Park area.
Florida Agricultural Law Enforcement Officer James McWhorter, 31, was killed over the weekend in a crash on Interstate 95 in Nassau County, near the Georgia border.
About 8:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, McWhorter was attempting to cross the southbound lanes of I-95 from the median access in a marked Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services patrol car and was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
He had been with the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement since 2019. The office monitors things like livestock and produce shipped into and out of the state.
On Thursday afternoon, there was a procession as his body was transported from Jacksonville to Jacksonville Memory Gardens off Blanding Boulevard in Clay County.
“This one, obviously, hits close to home. Unfortunately, there’s loss of life throughout our community every single day. It does the same to us that it does with any other family. When it happens to your family, it hits a little bit differently,” said FHP Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan, who was part of the convoy of law enforcement transporting McWhorter’s body. “The law enforcement community is very close-knit. We are very tight. It affects us quite dearly when something like this happens to one of our own. The Department of Agriculture is probably one that you don’t hear about a lot, but they’re out there day in and day out, putting their lives on the line, as well.”
Bryan said this is something that’s difficult for law enforcement who do most of their job on busy roads like interstates where there’s an implicit danger with all the traffic.
“It is a dangerous environment, but it’s something our officers train for in terms of entering and exiting limited access facilities,” Bryan said. “It’s also one of the reasons why the median brakes are for official use only. The average public does not know the time and distance that is covered when pulling out from shoulders or things like medium crossings.”
Friends described McWhorter, who was from Middleburg, as a loving family man who was a good listener. Bryan is also from the Middleburg area and said the community is reeling from this loss.
“The community that he lived in was the same community that I live in — a very close-knit community,” Bryan said. “I’m very thankful for their support, very thankful for the public support with all of their prayers and kind words during this critical time.”
McWhorter leaves behind a fiancée and four children.
Funeral services for McWhorter will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Middleburg on Blanding Boulevard.
The four people in the pickup that hit McWhorter’s vehicle were taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries, according to the Highway Patrol.