FHP Trooper Zachary Fink Killed in a Crash on I-95 While Trying to Detain a Fleeing Felon
St. Lucie County - Friday February 2, 2024: A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper was killed Friday morning while chasing a fleeing felon who was heading the wrong way, against oncoming traffic, on I-95 in St. Lucie County.
FHP Col. Gary Howze told reporters at a noon news conference in Port St. Lucie that 26-year-old Trooper Zachary Fink began his pursuit of a white Kia at 2:48 a.m. Friday morning. He said the Kia was traveling north on I-95, in a recklessly manner, far in excess of the speed limit.
Just south of the Crosstown Parkway exit, the Kia cut across the medium and began heading north, in the southbound lanes.
“Trooper Fink, in an attempt to continue to apprehend the subject, and/or warn unsuspecting motorists, turned also," said Col. Howze. "Unfortunately (he) turned into the immediate path of a semi-tracker trailer which struck the left driver’s side of his patrol car.”
The driver of the 18-wheeler was pronounced dead at the scene. Trooper Fink was air-lifted to Lawnwood hospital in Fort Pierce where he later succumbed to his injuries from the crash.
The Kia meanwhile, got off of I-95 and struck a tree in Port St. Lucie. The driver got out and fled on foot, "after which a manhunt ensued involving multi-agencies," said Col. Howze. "The multi-agency search did identify a person of interest, and that person was apprehended at 8:06 a.m.”
That person of interest was only identified as a black male. No name was given. Authorities declined to answer any further questions at the news conference. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office will be handling the ongoing criminal investigation.
A portion of the north and south bound lanes on I-95 in St. Lucie County were closed shortly after 3 a.m. Friday morning. That stretch of highway remained closed for 12- hours until mid-afternoon Friday when the lanes were re-opened.
“Trooper Fink was, is a hero," said Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner. "Trooper Fink died in the line of duty. As his step-mother related to me, since he was 6-years old, all that he has wanted to do was help people.”