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Family of officer in crash wants Pasco to pay for his death

NEW PORT RICHEY — The wife and three sons of a Tampa police officer want Pasco County to pay for his death from a crash with a government pickup.

Attorneys notified the county this week that they intend to file wrongful death claims for the May 1 collision that killed Master Patrol Officer Victor Guerrero, 47, a father and 20-year veteran of the force.

Martin J. Hernandez, a Tampa attorney for Guerrero's three sons in North Carolina, said they intend to seek the full $200,000 in damages allowed against governments under state law.

Hernandez also said they intend to ask the Legislature pass a claims bill providing more money for the family, though they've just begun reviewing their options and Pasco's insurance plan.

"This was a Tampa police officer with an excellent record," Hernandez said.

A Miami attorney, Daniel Koltun, also filed a wrongful death notice for Guerrero's wife, Lara.

The crash occurred when Guerrero was off-duty and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle south on U.S. 41, just north of State Road 52.

A county-owned Ford F-150 pickup heading north made a left turn in front of the motorcycle. The impact hurled Guerrero across a lane and onto the shoulder of the road, police said.

The county driver, engineering inspector Daniel Whipple, has been on desk duty since the crash. The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating, spokesman Larry Coggins said.

Guerrero had not been wearing a helmet. Tampa police policy doesn't require off-duty officers to wear one while riding a motorcycle.

County spokesman Eric Keaton said Pasco is waiting for the FHP investigation to be completed before addressing any claims or Whipple's status.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232

Family of officer in crash wants Pasco to pay for his death 05/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:10pm]
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