UPDATE: The visitation and funeral for Master Corporal Brian LaVigne will be held on Tuesday, January 19 at Idlewild Baptist Church. They will be open to the public.
The visitation will take place at 10:00 a.m. and a procession will follow immediately after.
Donations to the LaVigne family can be made through the Lynn Sowers Memorial Foundation. Information on how to donate can be found here.
BRANDON, Fla. — A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy who had just one more shift before he was set to retire was killed in a crash caused by a driver who rammed his cruiser, Sheriff Chad Chronister said late Monday night.
According to Chronister, Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne was responding to fellow deputies’ call for help when a fleeing driver rammed his cruiser.
What You Need To Know
- Cpl. Brian LaVigne was responding to fellow deputies’ call for help when a fleeing driver rammed his cruiser, Sheriff Chronister said
- The 30-year veteran was set to retire this week
- Chronister said the driver who killed him suffered minor injuries and is facing numerous charges, including first-degree felony murder
Chronister said deputies responded to a 911 call about a man who was acting in a bizarre manner at an apartment complex. When deputies confronted Travis Garrett, he attacked them, striking a deputy in the head so hard he knocked him to the ground, according to Chronister.
Deputies tried to stun him with a stun gun several times, but that didn’t stop Garrett, who jumped in a car and sped away. He crashed through the gate of the apartment complex and raced onto Brandon Parkway, Chronister said.
LaVigne was among the deputies responding to the call.
The sheriff said Garrett intentionally shifted two lanes and rammed his car into the driver’s side of LaVigne’s cruiser, which crashed and trapped him inside.
Paramedics arrived, and he was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Chronister said LaVigne was a 30-year veteran who had one more shift remaining before he was set to retire from the force. His daughter is also a Hillsborough County deputy.
It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of HCSO Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, killed in the line of duty on Monday, January 11, 2021. While assisting his fellow deputies on a call for service, an individual fleeing from deputies struck his vehicle, taking his life. pic.twitter.com/VIYq40Vs0z
— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) January 12, 2021
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue posted ths somber message: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and their families.”
— Hillsborough County (@HillsFireRescue) January 12, 2021
Chronister said Garrett was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. On Tuesday, the 28-year-old was charged with first-degree felony murder, DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, felony criminal mischief, and aggravated fleeing to elude.
Fighting back tears, Chronister called LaVigne “a great family man, someone who served this community not just by answering calls for service, and being a supervisor for the young troops out here.”
“This is one of the most difficult times we have faced as a Sheriff’s Office, losing one of our family members to such a senseless act of violence,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said Tuesday in a news release. “We continue to mourn this loss with both the LaVigne family, our Sheriff’s Office family, and our community. Our focus remains intent on seeking justice for the murder of Master Corporal LaVigne, and celebrating an individual who devoted his life to public service.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor were among those offering their condolences.
“(Casey and) I are saddened to learn of the passing of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, who was killed in the line of duty. He served our state with distinction & the perpetrator must be brought to justice,” DeSantis said on Twitter.
I was saddened to hear of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne’s tragic passing in the line of duty. My deepest condolences to his loved ones & counterparts at @HCSOSheriff – our entire Tampa Bay region mourns this loss with you.
His dedication & sacrifice will not be forgotten. https://t.co/3EJMwv6Kh8
— Jane Castor (@JaneCastor) January 12, 2021
Witness describes his actions
Jacob Thompson says the sound of the crash made him stop trimming the hedges in front of his house and run to help.
“ I was on top of the car actually trying to get the windshield out,” Thompson said, “I tried to pry the door open but the damage was so significant. that there was no getting that door open other than the jaws of life.”
Jacob Thompson heard the crash and rushed to the scene. (Spectrum News image)
For Jacob, trying to save the deputy was personal. His late uncle Buford Nails retired as a detective with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“Once you have family in law enforcement, they all become family,” Jacob said, making witnessing this horror even worse.
“There’s no moving on from what I seen in that car.”