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State trooper, truck driver killed during high-speed chase on Interstate 95

Trooper Zachary Fink was following a reckless driver when he turned into the path of a tractor-trailer, officials say.
 
Law enforcement escorts an ambulance carrying Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Fink's body from Lawnwood Hospital on Friday in Fort Pierce. Fink was killed Friday in a crash with a tractor-trailer during a high-speed chase on Interstate 95, officials said.
Law enforcement escorts an ambulance carrying Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Fink's body from Lawnwood Hospital on Friday in Fort Pierce. Fink was killed Friday in a crash with a tractor-trailer during a high-speed chase on Interstate 95, officials said. [ CRYSTAL VANDER WEIT | AP ]
Published Feb. 2

PORT ST. LUCIE — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper and a truck driver were killed Friday after the trooper followed a reckless driver who made an illegal U-turn into the opposite direction of Interstate 95, officials said.

The suspect initially got away and was chased by other troopers and deputies until he crashed into a tree and fled on foot. He was captured about five hours after the initial pursuit, following an extensive manhunt, authorities said.

A St. Lucie County deputy initially tried to stop the suspect early Friday because he was driving at twice the speed limit, but disengaged several minutes later. Trooper Zachary Fink then picked up the pursuit, trying to stop the motorist out of concern he was endangering other drivers, said Col. Gary Howze, who heads the Florida Highway Patrol.

After the suspect made an abrupt U-turn into the opposite direction of highway traffic, Fink followed, turning into the path of the tractor-trailer. The truck’s driver died at the scene and the trooper was airlifted to a hospital, where he died, the agency said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on social media that “our hearts go out to” the trooper’s family and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Fink, 26, was a three-year Highway Patrol veteran, starting in Orlando before transferring to his hometown in the Port St. Lucie area. He’s survived by a fiancee and his parents, Howze said.

Several lanes of the major north-south highway were closed for most of the day because of the crash.