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Community remembers Pinellas deputy Michael Magli 1 year after he was killed by drunk driver

Magli was the first PCSO deputy killed on duty in the department's history
Posted at 9:19 AM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 09:19:28-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A year ago on Thursday Deputy Michael Magli with the Pinellas County Sheriff's was killed by a drunk driver. He was the first PCSO deputy killed in the line of duty in the department's 109-year history.

Deputy Magli, 30, was killed when after a drunk driver smashed into his squad car at Eastlake Road and Forelock Road. That intersection is now named after him.

The sheriff's office said when Magli received the call about the drunk and reckless driver heading toward rush hour traffic he parked his cruiser on the median and prepared to deploy stop sticks in the road. Then the suspect lost control of his vehicle and it spun out, rolled and slammed into the cruiser and Deputy Magli. He died at the scene.

"Some will say that Michael was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I say nonsense. Deputy Michael J. Magli was in the right place at the right time doing what cops do every day throughout this country: protecting others even if it means grave personal danger to themselves," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement on Thursday.

At the time, Gualtieri said to describe the situation as a tragedy was an "understatement."

"It was a situation where the person needed to be stopped. Otherwise, he was going to hurt someone else," said Sheriff Gualtieri. "Deputy Magli was trying to protect people. He was trying to keep others from being hurt by this guy who is driving like a maniac, drunk, reckless, going to hurt somebody so he stepped up like cops do."

Deputy Magli left behind a wife, Stephanie, and two young daughters. A few months after his death his wife released a letter, thanking the community for their support.

"Michael was the dad who got on the floor and played with his kids, did Maddie’s hair for school(way better than I do it), and helped with homework. He always told Maddie 'no boyfriends,' but then would say, 'I’m going to be a blubbering idiot when they get married.' As a husband, he was supportive, loving, and my rock. Michael was as level-headed at home as he was at work.We knew very quickly, at just 19 years old, that we had met our person. I loved that man with every bit of me."

Her full letter can be read here.

Stephanie Magli - Thank You by ABC Action News


The suspect in the case, 33-year-old Robert Holzaepfel, had a blood-alcohol level of .23 when he crashed his truck into Deputy Magli, according to investigators. That's nearly three times the legal limit.