CLEARWATER, Fla. — It has been nearly three weeks since Pinellas County Deputy Michael Magli was killed in the line of duty. While the family is left navigating the road ahead, the local fishing community is rallying behind them.
“The fishing community is pretty big,” Joshua Zopfi of Osprey Bay Outdoors said. “We look at it like the biking community. We are always willing to help."
Reel Adventure Kayak fishing is doing just that. They've organized a fundraiser to help support the family of Deputy Magli who was killed on February 17 while attempting to stop a drunk driver.
“We’re just trying to raise as much money as we can,” Bill Buka, one of the organizers, said. “There are no boundaries (for the tournament), as long as you are here by 4:30 p.m. Saturday to weigh your fish in with a photo, and win up to $1000 for first place."
The open boundaries tournament is scheduled for safe light launch on April 3. All participants are to weigh-in by 4:30 p.m., at Osprey Bay Outdoors located at 160 North Belcher Road in Clearwater.
The entry fee is $65, with cash prizes going to the top three. The remaining money goes to the family, along with cash from a raffle and auction funds. Over 75 sponsors had donated items for the auction.
“It's mind-boggling the outpouring of support from the community,” Zopfi said.
Deputy Magli had been with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for eight years. For Zopfi and Buka,l losing Magli hits close to home.
“I jumped right in to get involved because I had wrecked my car a year ago and Deputy Magli was the first officer on scene,” Zopfi said.
“He as very nice, very great person,” Buka said. “It just touched me cause I just saw him a week ago and he was gone the following week."
Just this week, Tampa Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen was killed while protecting other motorists from a wrong-way driver.
“We do want to honor him at our tournament as well,” Buka said. “There will be a photo of him and a wreath. He will be honored and acknowledged at our tournament as well."