On Friday evening, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced that tragedy had struck its law enforcement agency with the sudden death of Deputy Sheriff Jason Shoulta.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Shoulta, 43, was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident in Pasco County Friday afternoon around 12:15.
In a message to members of the Sheriff's Office, Gualtieri said:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Jason's family and friends. There is no sense that can be made of such a tragedy and no words that can make this easier on anyone."
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash occurred near the intersection of Perrine Ranch Road and County Road 77 (Seven Springs Road).
Shoulta, who was off-duty at the time of the accident, was operating his 2010 Harley Davidson Street Glider southbound on County Road 77 approaching the intersection with Perrine Ranch Road.
The second driver, Taylor Vanderbilt, was driving her vehicle northbound on County Rd 77, according Florida Highway Patrol.
Vanderbilt, according to the crash report, attempted to make a left turn into a gas station at that intersection, and in so doing, had entered into the path of the Shoulta.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Shoulta tried to avoid the collision, but struck the right rear section of Vanderbilt's vehicle.
He sustained critical injuries and was transported to Bayonet Point Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:23 p.m. Friday.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Shoulta is survived by his fiancé and children.
"One thing I can say about Jason is he had like a permanent smile. His eyes smiled," Sheriff's Capt. Teri Dioquino told the Times. "His whole career he was always very professional. He had a great presence around him.”
Shoulta had been with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office since March 3, 1999. He was currently assigned to the Patrol Operations Bureau. He has also served as a Bailiff in Court Security and was a member of the SWAT Team, among other assignments, according to the Sheriff’s Office.