PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office held a procession Thursday afternoon for Deputy Michael Magli, who was killed Wednesday while trying to stop a suspected drunk driver in Tarpon Springs.
Magli was escorted from the medical examiner's office at 10900 Ulmerton Road in Largo to the Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Home on Bartelt Road in Holiday.
He had worked for the sheriff's office since 2013 and was just 30 years old. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.
"It blows my mind when I saw his picture online my heart just sunk. I remember the picture we had taken with him and it broke my heart it really did," Christine Rittenhouse said.
Since the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was established in 1912, one of the agency's deputies had never been killed in the line of the duty – until Wednesday.
As friends and coworkers set up a memorial for Deputy Magli outside the sheriff's office, Rittenhouse remembered meeting him while delivering gift baskets there.
"It was in November, the week of Thanksgiving. We wanted to give thanks to our local heroes so it was just a couple months ago," she said.
Rittenhouse said he welcomed their group with open arms and was patient with the kids.
"The teenagers in our group were a little awkward and didn't know what to say, but he jumped right in and told them all sorts of facts about the job and cracked some jokes and was just very sweet," she said.
His impact on the teens was a positive one they still remember; and she says even though they only met briefly, the loss still hits hard.
"My heart just sunk and I tried so hard not to cry because I have a daughter and I can't imagine him not being around for his family," Rittenhouse said.
As the memorial grew throughout the day, the sheriff's office said it plans to announce a memorial account managed by a bank for his family.
"We also wanted to help them out and do something so we will be hosting a car wash for him on February 21st from 12-2 p.m. at Kirk Church, 2686 Bayshore Blvd in Dunedin," she said.
- A controversial Florida law put him behind bars for 14 years. He just walked free.
- Lasting legacy: Earnhardt's death 20 years ago saved lives, forced change
- Manatee County Commissioner who admitted to handpicking vaccine zip codes also added her name to the list
- Pinellas deputy hit and killed by suspected drunk driver, sheriff says
- 'The decline is real': Here are the 4 reasons COVID-19 cases could be dropping so quickly in Florida
- Genealogists work to help African Americans trace enslaved ancestors
- Attorney General: Cult leader sentenced to 30 years for toddler's murder
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter