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Tampa Police officer killed in traffic accident

1:06 AM, Feb 26, 2006   |    comments
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Detective Juan Serrano

This story originally appeared Feb. 25, 2006.

Tampa, Florida -- Tampa Police officers are mourning the death of one of their own. They say 17-year veteran Detective Juan Serrano was killed in a traffic accident.

It happened at happened at the Gibsonton Drive exit off I-75. Officers say Serrano was an outstanding detective. One who was well respected. It's devastating for Tampa's finest.  

"Heartbreak, we lost one of our own," says TPD Officer Joe Durkin. "It's like a family member."

Authorities say Detective Serrano was at the intersection of Gibsonton Drive and I-75, when another driver ran a red light and crashed into him.

"Smashed into the detective's vehicle," Durkin explains. "Then these two guys get out of the car and leave him there to die, trying to flee from the scene."

Detective Serrano later died at Tampa General Hospital. The 17-year veteran was also a bodyguard and driver for Mayor Pam Iorio. He was with her at a Gasparilla race earlier in the day.

In a written statement, Mayor Iorio said, "Detective Juan Serrano represented the best traits you can find in an officer. Hardworking, dedicated, honest, straight forward, uncomplaining and loyal. I saw in Juan a person who lived his life each day according to values and beliefs that were strong and unwavering. Detective Serrano was truly representative of the men and women of the Tampa Police Department."

Serrano was married with three children. Fellow officers say he will be missed.

"He's a good friend of mine. Great guy, really family oriented, just a real nice guy," says Officer Randy Davis.

Investigators now have the driver in custody. Deputies charged Jose Espinoza with leaving the scene of an accident involving a death and no valid driver's license. Deputies are still looking for the passenger in the car who ran away from the scene.

Valerie Boey, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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