Pinellas deputy backing up SUV during chase fatally injures pedestrian

A canine deputy stopped his SUV and started reversing it just as a 59-year-old pedestrian crossed the street behind the vehicle, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
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Published Jan. 8, 2021|Updated Jan. 8, 2021

LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy chasing after suspected car thieves drove his SUV in reverse over a 59-year-old pedestrian on Wednesday, fatally injuring him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The pedestrian, Barry Fick, died at a hospital Thursday morning. His death is under investigation.

The incident took place about 9 p.m. Wednesday near U.S. 19 and UImerton Road. Deputy Alexander Edge, 29, a canine handler, was on his way to deploy his dog in pursuit of a group of suspects who ran from a stolen vehicle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Edge was driving west on Ulmerton Road, just west of the U.S. 19 intersection, approaching where the suspects were last been seen. Then another deputy radioed and said the suspects were heading toward an area behind Edge. The deputy, driving a marked 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe with its emergency lights activated, put the SUV in reverse and accelerated east in the westbound lanes.

Around the same time, the agency said, Fick bought something from a nearby 7-Eleven and walked toward Ulmerton Road. He stopped at the side of the road as the sheriff’s SUV passed. When the deputy stopped, Fick started to cross the road behind the SUV.

When Edge drove in reverse, the Sheriff’s Office said his rear bumper struck Fick. The pedestrian was not in a crosswalk, deputies said, and the deputy did not see Fick. The agency said the deputy put the SUV in reverse after seeing no vehicle behind him, that it was “not possible” to see the pedestrian in the vehicle’s mirrors, and that the pedestrian walked behind the SUV before the back-up camera or back-up alert detected him.

Fick was taken to Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg, where he died Thursday. The Sheriff’s Office’s Major Accident Investigation Team is investigating the crash.