Statistically speaking, in the United States, nearly thirty people die every single day due to car accidents where alcohol played a factor in the crash. Sadly, we lost a young correctional sergeant based out of Florida last week due to a drunk driver.
On December 12th, 2019, Florida Department of Corrections Sergeant Lauren Lee was killed in an accident involving an intoxicated driver. The sergeant, who was only 30-years-old at the time of her death, was on her way back home from work when her vehicle was struck.
According to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, the young correctional sergeant had just completed her shift at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution and was making her way home, heading down U.S. 301. At roughly 6:27 pm, Lee’s vehicle was struck by nearly head-on by a large truck operated by an intoxicated motorist, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The operator of the truck that took Lee’s life was identified as Jonathan Aldea Valdes, 36.
Valdes is an employee of Megascapes Landscape and Maintenance, and was driving the company’s pest control truck northbound on the same highway. Valdes had apparently lost control of the vehicle and turned onto the right-hand shoulder before overcorrecting his turn.
Investigators say he then found himself driving into oncoming traffic. Valdes’ truck slammed right into Lee’s smaller Honda, destroying the front half of the vehicle. Not long after the impact, Lee died from her injuries at the scene.
The late Sergeant Lauren Lee’s brother, Glenn Lee, spoke with local news outlet WFTS the day following his sister’s death:
“This guy driving a company truck, almost during business hours, and he was drunk and hitting other cars along the way. He was in a moving killing machine. She had no chance, with the size of that truck.”
From what authorities have said, Valdes refused to cooperate with tests pertaining to determining whether alcohol played a part in the crash while at the scene of the accident.
After officers made multiple attempts to administer various field sobriety tests, he became combative with officers during his arrest. He was later transported to the Pasco County jail on charges of DUI property damage and DUI manslaughter.
Prior to her passing, Lee had graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and then brought her talents to the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. She had served as a field training officer after having been promoted to the rank of sergeant back in June of 2018. The Florida Department of Corrections also noted that she had been recently certified as an officer instructor and offered to instruct advanced courses to better equip staff within the department.
The Florida Department of Corrections stated the following about Lee’s impact within the department:
“Correctional Sgt. Lauren Lee was a loved member of the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution team and will be greatly missed. We ask that you keep her family and the staff of Zephyrhills in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
American professional wrestler Aerial Hull, better known as ‘Big Swole’ when in the ring, posted the following on Twitter regarding the loss of Sergeant Lee:
“On Thursday I lost my friend to a drunk driver. Please don’t drink and drive…uber, Lyft, taxi, sleep, anything else but getting behind the wheel. Also if you see something report it, please…you can save a life. Rest Easy Lauren Lee, until we meet again boo!”
On Thursday I lost my friend to a drunk driver. Please don't drink and drive…uber, Lyft, taxi, sleep, anything else but getting behind the wheel. Also if you see something report it, please…you can save a life.
Rest Easy Lauren Lee, until we meet again boo! 🤎
— Big Swole 💪🏾 (@SwoleWorld) December 14, 2019
The young sergeant had a while life ahead of her when it was recklessly robbed from her due to the selfish act of driving while intoxicated. Our hearts go out to her family and loved ones and also to the staff at the Florida Department of Corrections, as she lived a life of pursuing goals and helping others.
Rest In Peace to my former teammate Lauren Lee #20 💛💚 pic.twitter.com/VELwfLNP5Q
— Jamarra Robinson (@COACHROBINSONJ) December 13, 2019
Meanwhile, officials are also investigating the details behind a suspicious death of a Maryland officer.
Today, we mourn the loss of Sgt. Anthony Oglesby Jr. of Bowie, Maryland.
Oglesby was killed in a bizarre single car wreck overnight Wednesday. Here’s what happened.
Maryland State Police say around 2:30 a.m., troopers from the LaPlata Barrack responded to the area of southbound Maryland Rt. 224 Chicamuxen Road and Sweden Point Road in Indian Head for a report of a vehicle that ran off the road.
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That’s where they found Oglesby dead. They said he was driving a 2015 Ford Taurus, when for unknown reasons, he drove off the right side of the road and struck a tree.
They said the tree fell on top of the vehicle, which then caught fire. Oglesby, who was a sergeant for the U.S. Navy Police, was declared dead at the scene.
Investigators said Oglesby was on duty and driving a marked patrol car at the time of the crash, and that nobody else was in the vehicle.
His body was brought to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police Forestville Barrack closed the intersection for about four hours while they investigated.
It’s been a difficult week in the Blue family. He’s not the first officer we lost in the past few days.
Greenwich Police Officer Justin Quagliani died unexpectedly Tuesday morning. Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey shared news of his sudden passing, saying the cause of death hasn’t been determined yet.
First Selectman Fred Camillo has asked that town flags be flown at half-staff in his honor.
“During the four years he has served the Greenwich Police Department, Officer Justin Quagliani continuously demonstrated that he possessed the qualities and the abilities to be an asset not only to the Department but to the entire Greenwich community, ” Camillo said.
He put out a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his police brothers and sisters who mourn his sudden passing.”
Heavey said that Quagliani “suffered a medical emergency” at his Greenwich residence around 5 a.m. while off-duty.
“Police and Greenwich Emergency Medical Service (GEMS) personnel responded to his residence, attempted lifesaving efforts and then transported him to Greenwich Hospital, where he was eventually declared deceased,” Heavey said in a statement. “The cause of death has not been determined, but there is no sign of foul play.”
The department is asking people to pray for the family.
“We wish to extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Justin and ask the public for its support during this difficult time,” Heavey said. “There is no further information available at this time.”
A few months back, Quagliani was given a letter of recognition from Capt. Kraig Gray for performing CPR during a medical call on Jan. 25, 2019.
Quagliani had arrived on the scene and found the woman was having a syncopal episode. During the presentation, the captain said his “quick intervention” aided the patient until the Greenwich Emergency Medical Service (GEMS) arrived and took over care.
“The highest calling of a police officer is to preserve life; your efforts are a true testament to your dedication to this principal,” states the Letter of Recognition.
“On behalf of the patient, her family, and the Greenwich Community, thank you for a job well done.”
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