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Injured deputy recovering and focused on return to duty

There is no denying the myriad dangers law enforcement officers face when they adorn their uniform and go on duty. For one such law enforcement officer in Pasco County, Fla., danger found him in a most-horrible way. While on patrol in his fully-marked police cruiser, Pasco County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Hill was struck head-on by a large-size pick-up truck.

Pasco County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Hill's destroyed police cruiser, after he was struck head-on by hit-and-run motorist Bertin Jamies, 25, on New Year's Day at 4:20 a.m. Hill was extricated and suffered two broken legs and a broken arm.
Pasco County Sheriff's Office
Pasco County Deputy Darren Hill in better spirirts and recovering from a serious traffic crash in which an errant motorist collided head-on with his fully-marked police cruiser on New Year's Day morning. Hill suffered two broken legs and a broken arm.
Pasco County Sheriff's Office

Deputy Hill was traveling on State Road 54 near Loury Drive in Wesley Chapel at approximately 4:20 a.m. on New Year's Day. At once, a 2002 Ford F-150 pick-up truck operated by Bertin Jamies, 25, crossed the painted center lines on the roadway's surface and collided with Hill's cruiser. Both of Hill's legs and one arm were broken.

Although Deputy Hill's injuries preclided him from speaking, he was able to activate a specially-designed emergency button built in to his duty equipment. With such an activation, other law enforcement officers are alerted by their dispatchers that an "emergency beacon" has been activated, and coordinates from where it originated.

With the aid of such a unique device, as well as a few 9-1-1 callers who observed the wreckage of his significantly-destroyed cruiser, other public safety officials were able to locate Deputy Hill.

Pasco County Fire/Rescue crew were able to extricate Deputy Hill from the pinned position we was placed in by the collision. Hill was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla.

At the time of the injury-involved hit-and-run crash, the driver of the pick-up truck fled his vehicle. His identity was unknown, until law enforcement officers found paperwork on which were addresses. Pasco deputies, detectives, and FHP troopers went each of the addresses and interviewed several people.

Law enforcement authorities from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO), the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the Zephyrhills Police Department (ZPD), the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) jointly investigated the deputy-involved crash.

A ground and air search for the hit-and-run driver (Bertin Jaimes) involved HCSO and Pinellas County Sheriff's air support and canine units.

Subsequent to verifying the pick-up truck's vehicle registration, law enforcement officers were led to the home of its owner and others. In all, the hit-and-run vehicle's driver was arrested. Four others were arrested for obstruction of justice. Of the arrested parties, three are also being held for federal Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities pertaining to "immigration status violations".

On Friday, January 3, 2014, Deputy Hill was in much better spirits as he recovers in a hospital gurney, his two broken legs and broken arm in the healing phase. With a thumbs-up and a radiant smile, Deputy Hill remains focused on a full recovery from the injuries sustained from the traffic crash and is eager for a complete return to active duty.

Just about two years since being sworn-in as a law enforcement officer with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Hill is set to celebrate his 2-year anniversary as a law enforcement deputy on January 09, 2014. If Deputy Hill's positive outlook, especially given the circumstances with which he was encumbered, is a testament of his resilience and courage in the face of horror, then a long, fulfilling and prosperous career is just ahead.

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