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Senator Book, District 32 — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 16, 2019

CONTACT: Zoraida Druckman, 9544246674


Fallen Jacksonville Officer Road Designation by Senator Book Part of Governor-Signed Transportation Package

Senator Lauren Book’s Amendment Honors Fallen Officers Statewide

Tallahassee, FL —

HB 385, a bill relating to transportation sponsored by Senator Manny Diaz Jr. (R-Hialeah) and Representative Bryan Avila (R-Miami Springs), was signed into law by Governor DeSantis. While the primary content of this bill pertains to Miami-Dade County transportation issues, it contains a critical amendment filed by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) identifying all fallen Florida Highway Patrol officers who have not been recognized for their service with an honorary transportation facility designation – including those from Jacksonville. 

“The brave men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol work day and night to keep our most dangerous roadways safe—sacrificing time with their own families, to protect and serve ours,” says Senator Lauren Book. “I want to thank Senator Diaz and Representative Avila for allowing this amendment to their bill to ensure those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty are honored for their bravery.”

Senator Book’s amendment creates designations for 26 officers in various counties in honor of their ultimate sacrifice in service to the people of the State of Florida, including the following from the Jacksonville area:

  • Sergeant George A. Brown III

While overtaking a traffic violator on County Road 341 in Columbia County, approximately six miles south of Lake City, Sergeant Brown’s vehicle left the paved travel portion of the roadway onto the east shoulder, rotating counterclockwise and traveling into a wooded area adjacent to the shoulder, where it struck several trees. Sergeant Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sergeant Brown had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 33 years. His career with FHP began July 6, 1970. He was in the 37th recruit class in Tallahassee, from July 6, 1970 to September 26, 1970.  He was stationed in Lake City.  At the time of his death, he was 55. He is survived by his 13-year old son, Tucker, his parents and sister.

 

•     Trooper Robert P. McDermon

Trooper McDermon was shot while attempting to apprehend an escaped prisoner off US 90 near Jacksonville. McDermon was off duty and was with his cousin when they returned to the cousin’s home, encountered the prisoner who was armed.  Shots were exchanged and both the trooper and his cousin were killed. The suspect was apprehended a short time later.

Trooper McDermon had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 11 years. His career with FHP began June 1, 1970. He was in the 39th recruit class in Tallahassee, from July 5 to September 25, 1971.  He was stationed in Miami, Ocala and Jacksonville.  At the time of his death, he was 35. He was survived by his wife and two children.

 

•     Trooper Edwin J. Gasque

Trooper Gasque was shot when he was ambushed while he and a prison dog handler with his police dog, Major, tracked two fugitives in Jacksonville. The suspects were wanted for abducting and shooting at a Duval County sheriff’s deputy.

Trooper Gasque had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 2 years. His career with FHP began August 1, 1959. He was in the 19th recruit class in Tallahassee, from February 1 to April 16,1960.  He was stationed in Jacksonville and had just gotten a transfer to Daytona Beach, where he lived. At the time of his death, he was 30. He was survived by his wife, Kate, and two children, Katherine Ann and Mike.

•     Trooper Wilburn A. Kelly

Trooper Kelly was on routine patrol in St. Augustine, when another vehicle struck his cruiser from behind.

Trooper Kelly had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 22 years. His career with FHP began November 1, 1952. He was in the 11th recruit class at Eglin AFB, from October 7 to November 7, 1953.  He was stationed in Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Marianna and St. Augustine.  At the time of his death, he was 43. He was survived by his wife, Barbara.

•     Troopers Merle J. Cook

Trooper Cook was in an airplane crash in St. John’s County while assisting in the search for two suspects wanted for breaking and entering. Corporal Cleo Tomlinson and Trooper Robert Pruitt were also lost in this crash.

Trooper Cook had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 10 years. His career with FHP began January 1, 1971. He was in the 40th recruit class in Tallahassee, from January 10 to March 31, 1972.  He was stationed in Fort Lauderdale, Brooksville and Lake City.  At the time of his death, he was 44. He was survived by his wife, Mary.

  • Robert L. Pruitt

Trooper Pruitt was in an airplane crash in St. John’s County while assisting in the search for two suspects wanted for breaking and entering. Corporal Cleo Tomlinson and Trooper Merle Cook were also lost in this crash.

Trooper Pruitt had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 5 years. His career with FHP began April 16, 1976. He was in the 51st recruit class in Tallahassee, from June 7 to September 3, 1976.  He was stationed in Pinellas Park and Fernandina Beach.  At the time of his death, he was 37. He was survived by his wife, Valera, and two daughters, Angela and Tammy.

  • Cleo L. Tomlinson, Jr.

 

Corporal Tomlinson was in an airplane crash in St. John’s County while assisting in the search for two suspects wanted for breaking and entering. Trooper Merle Cook and Trooper Robert Pruitt were also lost in this crash.

 

Corporal Tomlinson had served the residents of Florida, with the Florida Highway Patrol, for 19 years. His career with FHP began August 30, 1962. He was in the 22nd recruit class in Tallahassee, from August 30 to November 17, 1962.  He was stationed in Sanford and St. Augustine.  At the time of his death, he was 42. He was survived by his wife and four children.

 

“I am glad to team up with Senator Book to honor our fallen law enforcement officers in this legislation,” says Senator Diaz. “It’s the right thing to do.”

While the core of HB 385 relates to Miami-Dade County, Sen. Book’s amendment recognizes fallen officers from across the State of Florida.