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Deputies die during stolen car chase
They were hit by a patrol car that was pursuing the suspects.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 29, 2007
PAHOKEE - Two Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies who had tried to stop a stolen vehicle on a rural road in the Everglades were killed when they were struck by a fellow deputy's patrol car early Wednesday. The driver of the patrol car was injured, authorities said.
Scores of officers combed the region looking for two suspects in the car theft. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw later said they had one in custody.
The deputies had put spikes on a road that punctured the stolen car's tires. But when they ran to take the spikes off the road they were struck about 1:45 a.m. by a canine patrol vehicle that was pursuing the car thieves, Bradshaw said.
"They probably did not estimate the canine was coming at the speed that it was," Bradshaw said at a news conference. "You're talking about a road that is absolutely pitch black."
The stolen car stopped at the scene after its tires were punctured. The thieves then fled into sugarcane fields near Pahokee. The patrol car that struck the deputies slid into a canal.
"Everybody involved in this was doing their job. They were doing it the right way, but this is a dangerous job," Bradshaw said, adding that the two deputies were killed instantaneously.
At least 75 officers and several canine units converged on the area and spent five hours combing the fields. That focused search ended as detectives pursued other leads.
Police later arrested Ernie Kirk Daley Jr., 19, identified as one of the suspects "without a doubt," Bradshaw said. He said authorities tracked him down with help from the community and arrested him without a struggle.
"This is a very tight-knit community. They love these deputies," Bradshaw said.
The chase began after a Belle Glade resident called police to report that a neighbor's car was being stolen. Deputies who responded saw the car and pursued it.
The sheriff identified the dead officers as 13-year veteran Donta Manuel, 33, and Jonathan Wallace, 23.
The driver of the patrol car that hit them, Gregorio Fernandez, 39, was being treated for a concussion and a broken arm and was in fair condition, Bradshaw said.
Other Florida law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty this year.
January: A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was shot to death when he tried to make a traffic stop in Central Florida.
January: A Jackson County sheriff's deputy and the sheriff's wife were killed in a shootout.
August: A Broward officer was killed while looking for stolen vehicles.
August: A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy was fatally shot while driving his patrol car.
September: A Miami-Dade County police officer was killed by a man who ambushed him and three other officers with an assault weapon.
November: A Broward County deputy was killed while taking a suspect to court.