A 26-year-old Florida Highway Patrol trooper was killed in the line of duty overnight while chasing a suspect on the interstate, authorities said.
Trooper Zachary Fink was trying to apprehend a fleeing felon who was driving recklessly in St. Lucie County. The suspect refused to stop and led Fink on a pursuit, authorities said at a news conference Friday.
The suspect then made an abrupt turn and started driving in the wrong direction on the interstate, authorities said. Fink also turned around in an effort to apprehend him and warn other drivers, authorities said.
But once Fink turned, he collided with an 18-wheeler semi-truck driver. Both Fink and the truck driver died from their injuries, authorities said.
The suspect eventually crashed his car into a tree and fled the scene on foot, authorities said. A manhunt ensued and the suspect, who has not been identified, was taken into custody at about 8 a.m. Friday, authorities said.
Fink, a three-year veteran of the highway patrol, leaves behind his fiancée, father and stepmother, authorities said.
“Trooper Fink is a hero who died while helping people, something he was passionate about since the age of six,” said Dave Kerner, executive director of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“After speaking with his family, I can say that Trooper Fink was living his dream as a Florida State trooper when a felon tragically took his life,” added Col. Gary Howze of the Florida Highway Patrol. “As a first responder, sacrifice is not new; it is daily and experienced while living, when missing breakfast with family, or when at work instead of with family. We appreciate Trooper Fink’s sacrifice and know that the people of Florida are safer because of his commitment to keeping them safe.”
ABC News’ Jianna Cousin contributed to this report.