Law enforcement agencies in Pinellas County say they will be out in force this weekend looking for drunk drivers in an operation that is dedicated to the memory of a teen killed by an impaired driver in 2019.
The “DUI wolf pack” will begin at 7 p.m. today and last until 5 a.m. Sunday, according to a news release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
“The operation is part of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s on-going commitment to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving,” the news release states. “The goal of the Wolf Pack is to educate people and create public awareness about the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and any chemical or controlled substances.”
The sheriff’s office often dedicates these operations to someone killed by an impaired driver, and this weekend’s effort is in memory of Sophie Delott, a 17-year-old Pinellas County girl who was hit and killed by an impaired driver on the Indian Rocks Causeway Bridge in 2019.
Sophie was riding in the bicycle lane when a 69-year-old man swerved into the lane and hit her. She was ejected from the bike and later died at the hospital.
The man who hit her was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a fatal crash. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this year, according to records from the Florida Department of Corrections.
Sophie was a player on the Seminole High School football team and had enlisted in the Marine Corps, according to a Tampa Bay Times story about her published shortly after her death.
“Everything she did had nothing to do with wanting to be rewarded,” the coach of the football team said. “It was always about everybody else with her.”
When the next football season began, Sophie’s locker remained intact. Her helmet, shoulder pads and No. 22 jersey still hung there.
“Sophie was the only girl out here and she had the stones to do it,” one of her close friends on the team told the Times for another article. “Even though she was a female, she was still our brother.”
The sheriff’s office did a similar ‘wolf pack’ operation in March that resulted in 39 criminal charges and more than 160 citations. The charges included 22 DUI arrests and eight charges of driving with a suspended license or registration.
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Other agencies taking part in this weekend’s operation are the Florida Highway Patrol, and police departments from Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Largo, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tarpon Springs.
“They will maintain a proactive profile over the holiday weekend on the highly-traveled roadways of Pinellas County,” the sheriff’s office said in its news release.
In addition, deputies will take part in a holiday Sea, Air and Land Enforcement effort that will target speeding, aggressive driving and impaired driving of not only vehicles, but vessels on the water.
This effort began at 9 a.m. Friday and will last until 5 p.m. Monday. The operation will include marine deputies, the agency’s flight unit and traffic and DUI deputies.