Sheriff Mike Williams of the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Department in Florida sadly reports the death of Officer Lance Whitaker.

Officer Whitaker, 48, was responding to an injury traffic crash on the freeway when he lost control of his patrol vehicle. Whitaker’s unit left the roadway and struck a tree.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

Two troopers witnessed the collision. Wet road conditions are listed as a factor in the cause of the crash.

Officer Whitaker sustained massive trauma in the accident. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

“We will miss your kind heart and contagious smile,” JSO said in a Tweet.

“His tragic passing in the line of duty highlights the grave dangers our men and women in blue face every day when they put on their uniforms to keep us safe. Officer Whitaker’s oath was to serve and protect those in his community, and he died in pursuit of that mission,” says a statement from Sheriff Williams.

“If you’re going to get hurt in this job, one of the main ways you are going to get hurt is in traffic,” Williams said. It’s another reminder of the risk that the men, women of JSO take on every day when they come to this job. It’s not just a tagline and a talking point. It doesn’t get any more real than this … (It’s) a tough day for us.”

“An officer dropped off flowers and left in tears,” wrote Christy Turner in a tweet.

The loss comes on Police Memorial Day, and this was the fourth Florida law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in the last month. Highlands County Deputy William Gentry Jr., who was fatally shot while investigating a neighbor dispute earlier this month, was honored with a memorial service Tuesday morning.

Lance Whitaker served the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Department for 17 years.

Officer Lance Whitaker is gone, but will never be forgotten.

EOW: Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

Lance Whitaker

(Graphics courtesy Rose Borisow GrafX)