A funeral for Pinellas County Deputy Michael J. Magli, who was killed in the line of duty last week by a drunk driver, was held Tuesday.
Magli was killed after a drunk driver smashed into his squad car at Eastlake Road and Forelock Road Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Pinellas County Deputy Michael Magli was a loving father to two little girls, 5-year-old Maddie and 9-month-old Reagan. He was also a husband, a son and a hero. Magli was a man who bravely worked protecting others then went home and had tea parties and played with dolls alongside his little girls.
He’s the first deputy to die on the job in the agency’s 109-year history.
His heartbroken family told a crowd of hundreds that while they’re devastated, they know Deputy Magli was a man who put others first.
“Michael was a bright and beautiful light who went into law enforcement to help his fellow man,” his father Frank Magli said.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Deputy Magli was in the right place at the right time and doing what law enforcement officers do best: protecting others.
“If Mike and his cruiser hadn’t stopped that maniac drunk, he would have barreled into countless cars and many innocent people would have been seriously injured or killed. Deputy Magli was in the right place at the right time doing what cops do every day in this country: protecting others from harm and evil,” Gualtieri said.
Connor Magli, Michael’s younger brother, was fighting emotions as he spoke during the funeral.
“You don’t get to choose to be a hero. Heroism chooses you. In many ways heroism chose Mike,” he explained.
Stephanie Magli, Michael’s wife who shares two young daughters with him, thanked the hundreds of law enforcement officers for their support.
“Michael is my best friend. He was my partner. His soul was good and everybody that knew him knew that,” she said through tears.
The service was held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Idlewild Baptist Church. It was open to the public, but capacity was reduced to follow CDC guidelines.
Immediately following the service, guests went outside the church for a special ceremony including a 21-gun salute, a riderless horse, a last call and a flyover.
A law enforcement procession led Deputy Magli from the services to his final resting place. Dozens of people lined up their cars along State Road 54 for the procession, waving flags and saluting the fallen hero.
“It’s a life that shouldn’t have been taken," said Gary McKee.
The procession was filled with law enforcement from all over the Tampa Bay area, from Longboat Key up to Tarpon Springs. Along the route, some people said they knew of the deputy, saying he was a kind, quiet man with a good sense of humor. However, for most people on the route, he was a stranger they wanted to embrace and give a final farewell.
“This man deserves respect. He died saving us,“ said Holly Jones. "He’s someone’s husband, father, and he’s so young, and it’s such a senseless tragedy."
The procession went on for several miles, and some people started lining up as early as 11 a.m. to make sure they were in place. Large flags greeted the procession as it ended in Pasco County.
"If he wouldn’t have been there that day, I could have easily been driving up East Lake right around that time," said Lisa Bandl. "I could have easily been involved in all of that. He laid down his life, and his wife and children need to understand that man is an absolute hero.”
Deputy Magli was laid to rest at the Trinity Memorial Gardens located at 12609 Memorial Drive in Trinity.
More information about the processional, funeral services, a place to leave messages for Magli's family, as well as a memorial video can be found here.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office also announced the creation of the Deputy Michael J. Magli Memorial Fund.
This fund will be open for all donations and will serve as the officially recognized Fund for the Magli family. Those interested in donating are asked to visit any SunTrust banking location to contribute. Checks can also be sent to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Fiscal Division made payable to the Memorial.
The U.S. Honor Flag, escorted by the Florida Highway Patrol Honor Guard, was on display at the funeral. The U.S. Honor Flag has traveled to the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, traveled aboard the last space shuttle launch in 2011, and has honored thousands of American Heroes in Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
To honor Deputy Magli, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed flags to be flown at half-staff in the Tampa Bay area.
"To honor the memory of Deputy Michael Magli and his service to our state, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at the Pasco County Courthouse in New Port Richey, Florida, the Pinellas County Courthouse in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, February 23, 2021."