ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper who was killed in a crash on State Road 408 was remembered as a "leader" during a somber news conference Friday.
- Trooper Tracy Vickers died in SR 408 crash Friday morning
- SR 408 EB closed for more than 6 hours for investigation
- Vickers was US Navy veteran, was engaged to be married
- Get traffic updates with the Road Report
"One of our troopers has been killed in the line of duty. ... I'm sad to report the loss of one of our own, Trooper Tracy Vickers," said Col. Gene Spaulding of the FHP. "We are all heartbroken at this tragic loss."
The entire @FLHSMV family mourns today for the loss of one of our own, FHP Trooper Tracy Vickers. Trooper Vickers was a hero and leader within the patrol and his troop. We ask that you keep his family in your prayers. #FHP #EOW pic.twitter.com/4woSEWdiE5— FLHSMV (@FLHSMV) September 27, 2019
Vickers's Dodge Charger patrol car struck construction equipment and then ended up underneath an unoccupied construction truck around 5:50 a.m., FHP Lt. Kim Montes said Friday.
The fatal crash happened near the Conway Road exit over Lake Underhill.
Spaulding said Vickers was ending his shift at the time of the crash.
“At this time, it does not appear he was responding to a call. But you never know what a trooper is doing. He may have been taking enforcement action," Spaulding said.
"We just don’t know. We are still in the very early stages of that. There was no call on the computer aid dispatch system,” he added.
State trooper motormen escorted Vickers's body to the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office. The van was flanked by motorcycles.
"Trooper Vickers was a leader with the Florida Highway Patrol and with his troop," Spaulding said.
Vickers graduated in 2015 from the 131st recruit class of the Florida Highway Patrol, and the 31-year-old U.S. Navy veteran trained and mentored new troopers. He received a National Defense Service Metal.
Vickers was with Florida Highway Patrol for more than four years and started in Troop K, which is stationed in Leesburg in Lake County. He was later assigned to Troop K in Orange County.
He was engaged to be married.
Vickers was passionate about his patrol and did what was needed, Spaulding said, adding that Vickers responded to civil unrest and hurricanes within the state and country.
Vickers will be the 49th name that will be on a FHP wall of troopers who have died.
"He has made the ultimate sacrifice. ... he will always be part of the FHP family," Spaulding said.
Spaulding said the crash investigation is in the early stages and could take weeks, if not months, as traffic homicide investigators go over the site. They are collecting evidence and witnesses statements.
Spectrum News 13 reached out the Flash Rite, the company that owns the construction truck Vickers crashed into, but they declined to comment.
The eastbound lanes were shut down at Bumby Avenue to Conway Road for most of the morning. State Road 408 reopened at about 1 p.m.
Update: SR408 EB still SHUT DOWN at Bumby Ave. @RebeccaTurcoTV tells us road still expected to be closed for several more hours. Use Colonial Dr or Curry Ford Rd as alts #orlando #traffic pic.twitter.com/LCgbMMBHEw— Ryan Harper (@RyanMHarper13) September 27, 2019
Officials from several law enforcement agencies and municipalities expressed their condolences on Twitter.
We stand by our brothers and sisters from @FLHSMV @FHPOrlando as they deal with the unimaginable today. Praying for the officer’s family, friends and the department. #ThinBlueLine pic.twitter.com/JQZT8jKcrO— Chief Orlando Rolón (@OrlandoPDChief) September 27, 2019
We stand in grief with the entire @FLHSMV family, and especially our brothers and sisters in @FHPOrlando Please keep #FHP Trooper Tracy Vickers Family in your prayers. #EOW— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) September 27, 2019
Rest peacefully, Trooper. https://t.co/8TXyAfVp1y
Sheriff Russ Gibson & the Osceola County Sheriff's Office honor FHP Trooper Tracy Vickers, who was tragically killed this morning. Trooper Vickers was employed by the Florida Highway Patrol. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Trooper Tracy Vicker's family and friends. #FHPtrooper pic.twitter.com/FtlFSSSoX6— Osceola Sheriff (@OsceolaSheriff) September 27, 2019