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Dead sheriff was probably run over in charity bus race

Published October 17, 2006

NEW SMYRNA BEACH - The Lake County sheriff killed in a charity bus race accident somehow exited the vehicle and was hit by other buses, said one of the drivers, Daytona Beach's police chief.

Chief Mike Chitwood said he saw what looked like a pile of clothes on the track as he rounded a curve Saturday at New Smyrna Speedway. Beside the pile, the school bus driven by Sheriff Chris Daniels had spun onto the infield during the charity racetrack event.

"And then a light came on in my head," Chitwood said. "That pile was Chris' body."

He said he hurried to the scene and instantly knew a bus had run over Daniels.

The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident.

Daniels, a newlywed, died on his 47th birthday. He and six other current and former police and sheriff's agency heads were racing old school buses in the annual Battle of the Badges, a race benefiting Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches.

Witnesses said Daniels' bus spun out of control after colliding with another bus on the 12th lap of 15-lap race.

The roughly 10-year-old buses were fitted with governors preventing them from going faster than 45 to 50 mph, and the initial impact didn't look serious to many of the 10,000 people in the stands.

[Last modified October 17, 2006, 02:01:34]

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