Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco commissioners approve $200,000 settlement for Tampa officer killed in motorcycle crash

Tampa police Officer Victor Guerrero headed south on his Harley Davidson on U.S. 41, just north of State Road 52. The former Marine and father of six was on his way to his mother's house for coffee — something they did together nearly every day.

It was just before 1 p.m. on May 1, 2008. A county-owned Ford F-150 driven by county engineering inspector Daniel Whipple made a left turn in front of the motorcycle. Guerrero, who didn't have a helmet on, slammed into the truck and flew. Emergency responders rushed him to St. Joseph's Hospital and pronounced him dead on arrival. Whipple was later cited for making an improper turn.

In 2012, Guerrero's wife Lara sued Pasco County and won. A jury awarded $7 million, which one county official called the biggest award for damages she'd ever seen.

"He was my heart, my best friend. He was my everything," Lara Guerrero said after the trial. "And he was taken away."

The county appealed, asking for either a new trial or a review of the amount, but an appellate court upheld the verdict on Oct. 2.

On Tuesday, county commissioners authorized a payment of $200,000 to Guerrero's estate. Under Florida law, any amount above that would have to come from a claims bill approved by the Florida Legislature.

Guerrero's attorney Scott Lazar said he was waiting for the county's final decision before moving toward seeking a claims bill, but he hopes legislators will honor the jury's wishes.

"Victor Guerrero was an active Tampa police officer at the time, and we would hope that the legislators from Hillsborough County and Pasco County would support the family in recovering the amount that a jury of citizens felt was appropriate," Lazar said.

Lara and Victor Guerrero had been together for 12 years and married for nearly two when he died. They met at a Home Depot in Tampa. She worked as a cashier and he worked security on his days off from the Police Department. They built their dream house in Brooksville on 5 acres.

At Guerrero's funeral at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Tampa, bagpipers played and hundreds of uniformed officers attended.

Lara Guerrero moved to Ocala a few months after her husband's death so she and the children could be closer to her parents, and maybe move on.

"It's not any easier," she said after the trial. "The ghosts will follow you."

Pasco commissioners approve $200,000 settlement for Tampa officer killed in motorcycle crash 10/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 7:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S.-backed Syrian force declares victory over Islamic State in Raqqa

    World

    BEIRUT — A U.S.-backed Syrian force declared victory over the Islamic State group in its former "capital" of Raqqa on Friday, declaring the northern Syrian city free of any extremist presence.

    This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows damaged buildings in Raqqa, Syria two days after Syrian Democratic Forces said that military operations to oust the Islamic State group have ended and that their fighters have taken full control of the city. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: Lawsuits, lawyers, school board pay and more

    Blogs

    IN COURT: A former Hillsborough County school district top administrator sues the School Board and its chief of staff, alleging board member corruption and …

    Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes is the subject of several allegations in a former employee's scathing lawsuit.
  3. Clearwater eyes hiring new downtown director within two months

    CLEARWATER — Now that the city director tasked with revitalizing downtown has resigned after his arrest on a battery charge during Oktoberfest, City Manager Bill Horne said the goal is to not leave the position vacant long.

    Clearwater Assistant City Manager  Micah Maxwell will oversee downtown until the city hires a replacement for Seth Taylor.
  4. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17

    Business

    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida

    College

     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.