PALMETTO — A veteran Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy was fired over the weekend after being arrested on a DUI manslaughter charge, authorities said.
Timothy Alan Vaughan, 37, was arrested Saturday. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, he crashed into a motorcycle Friday night, causing the death of a 20-year-old woman who was riding on the back.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he fired Vaughan Saturday morning, in accordance with the agency's zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence.
"His cruiser and equipment were picked up from his house by 8 a.m.," the sheriff said.
Vaughan, of Palmetto, was driving a Kia Sportage north on U.S. 41 about 10:30 p.m. when he veered into a left-turn lane at the intersection of 37th Street Court E and collided with the back of a 2011 Yamaha V-Star, troopers said. The force of the impact pushed the Yamaha into another motorcycle.
Alexandria Marler, of Bradenton, fell off the back of the Yamaha and was then struck by Vaughan's Kia, troopers said. She was taken to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton and pronounced dead.
The driver of the Yamaha, 21-year-old Zachary Morris of Bradenton, was treated at Blake for minor injuries.
Gualtieri said he received a call at 4 a.m. Saturday from a FHP major who reported that Vaughan failed sobriety tests at the scene. Breath tests showed his alcohol level was .20 and .19, Gualtieri said. That's more than twice the level at which a Florida driver is presumed impaired.
Vaughan was charged with DUI manslaughter and three counts of DUI with property damage or injury. He remained in the Manatee County Jail in Palmetto on Monday in lieu of $76,500 bail.
Vaughan started with the Sheriff's Office in January 2007. He worked an evening shift in the south Pasadena area and had no disciplinary problems, Gualtieri said.
In the fall of 2013, after a string of employees were arrested for DUI, Gualtieri announced that Sheriff's Office employees charged with drunken driving would be automatically fired. Before then, discipline for an employee charged with a DUI ranged from a seven-day suspension to termination.
"There's no questions asked and no discussion," Gualtieri said. "And this situation is just horrendous in that not only was he driving above the legal limit, but he killed a 20-year-old."
The Sheriff's Office has an internal intervention program for employees who exhibit signs of alcohol or drug abuse, but Vaughan wasn't showing any, the sheriff said.
"I don't know if this is a one-time thing or if this is someone who has an alcohol problem and was able to mask it here," he said.
Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.