Car hauler slams into patrol cruiser near Venice. Man in back seat of cruiser dies.
SARASOTA -- A North Port man detained by police was killed in a crash on Interstate 75 near Venice late Saturday involving a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser and a truck.
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Michael Stephen Thorne, 63, was pronounced dead on scene after the crash near River Road at 8:54 p.m. Saturday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
An FHP trooper was investigating a single-vehicle crash into a guardrail involving Thorne, a possible DUI driver. FHP troopers said a marked Sarasota County Sheriff's Office vehicle -- with its emergency lights on -- had blocked the northbound inside lane to provide a safer area for troopers investigating.
FHP officials said the trooper investigating the single-vehicle crash tried to relocate Thorne to the paved shoulder as a safer place to conduct field-sobrierty tests.
Another vehicle, a car hauler driven by a 37-year-old Tampa man, was traveling north on I-75 in the center lane and did not move over into the outside right lane as he approached the area of the Sarasota deputy, the report said.
At the same time, the FHP trooper was attempting to cross the northbound lanes toward the paved shoulder in a marked FHP vehicle with Thorne in the right rear seat.
According to FHP officials, that's when the FHP trooper pulled out in front of the car hauler and, as a result, the front of the car hauler struck the right rear of the trooper's vehicle. The FHP vehicle came to a final rest within the inside paved median shoulder facing north. The car hauler came to rest within the grass median facing northwest.
Thorne was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a report. The FHP trooper was transported to Venice Regional Bayfront Health. The car hauler driver was not injured. According to FHP, all lanes reopened at 6:26 a.m. Sunday.
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Gregory S. Bueno said there were no updates on the investigation available on Sunday.
"It will remain under investigation for at minimum 60 to 90 days," he wrote in an email to a Herald reporter.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.