Three people, including a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, were killed Saturday when they were all struck by another vehicle while working a crash on southbound I-75.
FHP said Trooper Chelsea Richard, 30, was handling a two-car crash on I-75 southbound, near Southwest County Highway 484, in Marion County.
The cars involved in the crash were on the shoulder, as was the trooper, tow truck driver John Duggan and another person, George Robert Phillips.
Richard was standing on the shoulder talking to Duggan, who also just arrived to the scene. That's when a southbound pickup truck went onto the shoulder and hit the FHP cruiser, Richard, Duggan and Phillips. Richard and Duggan were pronounced dead at the scene. Phillips, 52, of Ocala, was taken to Ocala Regional Hospital in critical condition, where he later died.
"Today, the Florida Highway Patrol experienced a great loss," Col. David Brierton said. "Trooper Richard chose a life of public service."
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi offered her thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims, "We are all heartbroken that Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chelsea Richard, John Duggan and George Robert Phillips were struck and killed yesterday. Trooper Richard was killed in the line of duty, working to keep Florida's roadways safe," Said Bondi. "My FHP Trooper friends are devastated, and my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Trooper Chelsea Richard, John Duggan and George Robert Phillips as we all mourn their loss.”
In all, seven vehicles were involved in the two crashes. FHP said the crash investigation could take "months."
Charges are pending, troopers said.
Richard was a nine-year veteran of FHP. She leaves behind a 4-year-old son, her parents and her grandparents.
Funeral arrangements for Richard are being formed and will be available once decisions are made by the family. Richard is the 45th Florida Highway Patrol trooper to be killed in the line of duty.