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Daughter of fallen Hillsborough deputy reflects on his life in new video

Caitlin LaVigne says her father, Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne, put his family first and inspired her to become a deputy, too.
Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Caitlin LaVigne is seen in a screenshot from a video released by the Sheriff's Office on Friday. In the video, LaVigne reflects on the life of her father, Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne, who died on Jan. 11 when a suspect intentionally crashed into his patrol car, the Sheriff's Office said.
Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Caitlin LaVigne is seen in a screenshot from a video released by the Sheriff's Office on Friday. In the video, LaVigne reflects on the life of her father, Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne, who died on Jan. 11 when a suspect intentionally crashed into his patrol car, the Sheriff's Office said. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Jan. 15
Updated Jan. 15

TAMPA — Caitlin LaVigne grew up intent on following in her father’s footsteps, and she did, joining the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office where her father worked as a deputy.

“There was no convincing me otherwise. No one even tried,” LaVigne says in a video released by the Sheriff’s Office on Friday. “I wanted to be just like him ... I wanted to do what he did for people. I wanted to make people feel the way he made them feel.”

LaVigne is now mourning the man she emulated.

Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne was killed Monday when a man intentionally rammed his patrol car as he was responding to a call, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was 54 and just one shift away from retirement after a 30-year career with the office.

Related: A Hillsborough deputy was almost to retirement. Then a fleeing suspect took a fatal turn.

Efforts by the Tampa Bay Times to reach Brian LaVigne’s family members this week have been unsuccessful. The three-minute video released Friday contain Caitlin LaVigne’s first public comments since her father’s death.

She called her father her best friend and describes the sacrifices he made for his two children, who were his “pride and joy.”

“He’d take his vacation time to coach soccer for us, he’d spend every weekend with us,” LaVigne said. “He worked midnights for years, passing up promotions just to stay on midnights so that he could be home when we got up, and then he’d be up when we got home from school. Everyone knew we were his priority.”

Brian LaVigne (pronounced La-VINE) worked as a field training officer and on the street crimes unit during his career, goals Caitlin set for herself.

She said her father and mother Cathy were college sweethearts.

“You could just tell they were meant to be together,” she said.

The video also features Sgt. Tim Sullivan, who described LaVigne as “charismatic” and “magnetic.”

“You just wanted to be around the guy,” he said.

Sullivan called LaVigne “a cop’s cop” who could instill in new recruits “the values they needed in the profession, as a person and as a cop.”

LaVigne also knew how to set the right priorities between his job and home life.

“I’d say most of us make that mistake, we put this job first,” Sullivan said. He paused for a moment, then shook his head. “No, he didn’t.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne is seen in a photo included in a tribute video released by the office on Friday, four days after LaVigne was killed when a suspect crashed into his patrol car.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne is seen in a photo included in a tribute video released by the office on Friday, four days after LaVigne was killed when a suspect crashed into his patrol car. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Funeral services for LaVigne are set for Tuesday at Idlewild Baptist Church, near Dale Mabry Highway and Van Dyke Road in Lutz.

Visitation is scheduled for 10 a.m. and a funeral service for 11 a.m. Following the service, guests will be directed outside the church for a special ceremony and procession. The events are open to the public. Face coverings are required.

The driver who investigators say crashed into LaVigne, 28-year-old Travis Zachary Garrett, remained hospitalized Friday and faces nine charges including first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Prosecutors have filed a motion to have him held without bail pending trial. A hearing on that motion is set for Jan. 25.

“He had a positive impact on a lot of lives, and there was a lot of love for him and it was well-deserved because he was that good of a person,” Caitlin LaVigne said of her father. “I think we all kind of lost a little bit of ourselves.”