Sheriff captain killed

From the Tampa Tribune

BROOKSVILLE, Florida – Gerald Kline had just woken up when he heard a “horrific crash.”

There was no sound of brakes screeching. “It was all just a boom,” said Kline, whose backyard backs directly to Powell Road and California Street, the scene of the crash.

Killed was Hernando County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Bierwiler, 42, a father of three who was on his way to work about 5:45 a.m. when a 2002 Mitsubishi Montero smashed head-on into his 1999 Ford Crown Victoria.

The 16-year-old driving the Mitsubishi, Andrew Frank Morris of Weeki Wachee, crossed from the westbound lanes directly into eastbound traffic, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Morris, a student at nearby Nature Coast High School, was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. The teen was thought to be driving a stolen vehicle, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Jim Powers said.

Routine tests are being conducted to determine whether Morris was under the influence of alcohol.

Morris’ neighbor, Linda Peterson, said the teenager was helpful and would do small jobs like feeding their cat and yard work. “He’s a good kid,” she said.

Morris was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, but the captain was, troopers said.

After hearing the crash, Kline said he rushed outside and saw the smashed cars and went back inside to call 911. A nurse traveling on Powell Road stopped and tried to help, but there was no way to get inside the badly damaged vehicles, according to Kline.

Arriving deputies were devastated to find one of their own supervisors killed in the crash and were crying at the scene, Kline said.

“They were all tore up,” he said.

Bierwiler, who served in Hernando County for 22 years, was one of three captains at the sheriff’s office and was in charge of patrol operations for all three districts in the county. The new Emergency Operations Center is named for his father, Sgt. Frank Bierwiler, public information officer at the sheriff’s office.

Bierwiler is survived by his wife, Angie; daughters Kayla, 18, and Kiley, 16; and son, Scottie, 9.

At a news conference in the center named for Bierwiler’s father, Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent today called Capt. Bierwiler “a consummate professional.”

Bierwiler had just spent the weekend at the Daytona 500 with his son, Nugent said, calling the captain’s death “a loss for his family and a loss for our agency.”