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Trooper Claims Engine 'Cut Off' Right Before Deadly Crash

By: Andy Alcock, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Andy Alcock, Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED June 18, 2013
By Julie Montanaro

A Florida trooper fired in the wake of a deadly crash in Gadsden County could soon be getting his job back.

Trooper Detrick McClellan was on his way to a call when he struck a car on a curve back in February 2012. Michelle Campbell was killed.

McClellan claims his engine cut off right before the crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol contends McClellan was going more than 100 miles an hour and did not have his lights and sirens on, per department policy.

A state hearing officer is now recommending McClellan get his job back. He says that mechanical failure was an "extraordinary circumstance" beyond McClellan's control.

"Unfortunately the mechanical problems that plagued that car and were well documented ... a mechanical malfunction happened with the vehicle right as he was entering the curve at a high rate of speed. I mean it was literally just a tragic set of circumstances," said McClellan's attorney Stephen Webster.

The hearing officer recommends the trooper be suspended for 30 days. The full Public Employee Relations Commission will have the final say.

FHP intends to fight McClellan's reinstatement. A spokeswoman for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said "We hold our troopers to a higher standard of integrity and behavior" and "We continue to believe in our disciplinary actions."

We'll keep you posted on PERC's final decision. That's expected within 90 days.


By: Andy Alcock
May 29, 2013

Gadsden County, FL - A former Florida Highway Patrol Trooper involved in a fatal accident is trying to get his job back.

The crash took place on February 10th, 2012 on County Road 268 in Gadsden County.

Detrick McClellan was responding to a call about someone throwing rocks from an overpass onto the interstate.

He lost control of his vehicle on a curve and crashed into an oncoming car.

Michele Campbell, a passenger in that car, was killed.

FHP determined McClellan was at fault and fired him.

The former trooper finished pleading his case to get his job back before a hearing officer Wednesday morning.

"It was a tragic accident my client lives with every day," said Stephen Webster, McClellan's attorney.

It also cost Detrick McClellan his job as a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper.

He made his case to get his job back to the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission.

McCllellan says the check engine light came on right before the crash and his engine surged.

He claims FHP knew the vehicle needed repairs but didn't make them.

FHP claims McClellan was going 102 miles per hour with his lights off and the vehicle didn't need repairs.

McClellan claims he was driving 88 with his emergency lights on.

Additionally, another FHP Trooper who arrived at the crash site testified McClellan's lights were on, he videotaped them on and put the video on FHP's computer.

But the video hasn't been found.

"The only way that video could be deleted is with somebody with the agency headquarters who has administrative rights and the agency is continuing to maintain that the video does not exist," said Webster.

McClellan also claims other troopers involved in similar wrecks didn't lose their jobs.

"None of what was presented presents someone who was similarly situated as Trooper McClellan," said FHP Attorney Khai Patterson.

Patterson told Hearing Officer Joey Rix she'll back up that claim by submitting case law in post-hearing documents.

After the hearing McClellan says Patterson told him whatever happens, it's God's will.

A final decision about whether McClellan will get his job back or not is expected in about a month.


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