Deputy Sheriff Michael Hartwick
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
End of Watch Thursday, September 22, 2022
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Deputy Michael Hartwick, 51, was in a construction zone, working a traffic detail when he was struck by a front end loader with a forklift.
The operator of the front end loader, identified as Victor Vasquez, allegedly continued driving for about a quarter of a mile before he pulled into a parking area, got out of the vehicle and told another construction worker about what happened. He gave the worker his helmet and vest and ran away on foot, Gualtieri said.
Gualtieri said the other worker hid Vasquez’ uniform. That worker was arrested and will be charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Gualtieri said about 100 officers and K9 teams spent hours searching the area for Vasquez.
He was taken into custody shortly before 9 a.m., the sheriff’s office said in an updated press release.
He faces a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, a second-degree felony.
Gualtieri said Hartwick had worked for the sheriff’s office for 19 years. He was assigned to the patrol division, and worked the night shift for the North District Station.
He is survived by his mother and adult children, according to the sheriff.
“All I can say is here we go again. This is 18 months after Deputy Magli was killed,” Gualtieri said. “We go 110 years in the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office with no line-of-duty deaths, now we have two in 18 months.”