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Two law-enforcement officials die after head-on crash during Irma’s approach

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Two law-enforcement officials die after head-on crash during Irma’s approach

Recently planted palm trees lie strewn across the road as Hurricane Irma hits on Sept. 10 in Miami Beach, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee / AP)

Recently planted palm trees lie strewn across the road as Hurricane Irma hits on Sept. 10 in Miami Beach, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee / AP)

Two law-enforcement officials died after their vehicles crashed head-on in a rural county southeast of Tampa, Fla., Sunday morning as Hurricane Irma bore down on the state, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The drivers were Hardee County Sheriff’s Deputy Julie Ann Bridges, 42, of Wauchula, Fla., who was headed home in her marked sheriff’s cruiser, and Hardee County Correctional Institute Sgt. Joseph J. Ossman, 53, of Sebring, Fla., who was on his way to work in a 2012 Nissan Altima.

Local media reported that Bridges had just ended her shift at a hurricane shelter.

A state police crash report indicated that officials were still trying to figure out why the crash happened and whether the approaching storm was a factor. Both were wearing their seatbelts. Their agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hardee County Sheriff’s Department, the Florida Department of Corrections and their families!” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Gregory S. Bueno said in a statement.

News of the fatal crash came as more Florida law-enforcement agencies, citing safety, began pulling their officers and deputies off the roads as Irma began pummeling more of the state Sunday morning.

State officials are also investigating a nonfatal officer-involved shooting that happened during a burglary at 2:53 a.m. in the city of Weston, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale in the southeast corner of the state, as the area was battened down for the storm’s approach.

“Out-of-town homeowners alerted Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies around 3 a.m. Sept. 10 that their home surveillance system had captured burglars inside their home,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

Officials said two juvenile burglars were involved. At least one deputy shot at a juvenile suspect and hit him, according to the statement, which did not give further information about the age of the suspect, the nature of his nonfatal injuries, whether he was armed, and why he was shot.

He was taken to the hospital, and his alleged partner was taken into custody, though officials did not say what charges he might face.

A spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office referred questions to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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