A Charlotte County deputy died last night after being hit by a suspected drunk driver on I-75.

He just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday.

“This deputy was simply doing his job to make sure that people were going to be safe. Doing everything he could to take impaired drivers off the road and while doing so an impaired driver took his life,” said Trooper Ken Watson with Florida Highway Patrol. 

Deputy Christopher Taylor was tragically killed in the line of duty Tuesday night on I-75 in Punta Gorda.

“Deputy Taylor was outside of his vehicle speaking with the driver of the stopped car. At that time another vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed struck the patrol car which subsequently hit Deputy Taylor,” said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummel.

He was trauma transported to Punta Gorda ShorePoint Health where he died from his injuries.

The driver responsible was identified as 30-year-old Cassandra Smith of Lakeville, Massachusetts. 

“Not only have we seen the tragic death of a law enforcement officer, the female that killed this officer her life is forever changed as well because she made a bad decision and decided to get behind the wheel impaired,” said Watson. 

Deputy Taylor joined the agency in August of 2021. He was sworn in this past February.

“Losing a deputy, a member of our family, is unspeakably difficult for the office. Chris may have been an only child but there are countless brothers and sisters who mourn him,” said Sheriff Prummel. 

“It doesn’t matter what color your uniform is. Tan, green, or blue we are all the same and we are going to do everything we can to help our brothers and sisters get through this most difficult time,” said Watson. 

FHP says they will have increased troopers out on the road ahead of the holidays, to prevent tragedies like this.

“Most certainly we want to make sure you plan ahead. There are no second chances, no warnings, no leniency, when it comes to impaired driving. Please understand this take this as a warning and make good decisions,” said Watson. 

Deputy Taylor is survived by his parents and fiancé.

Smith is facing charges for DUI Manslaughter. This is her second DUI arrest, she just completed her probation in August.

More charges may be pending as the investigation continues.