A suspect is on the run, and a Nassau County deputy who was chasing him has died.
“It’s a tragic day in the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office,” says Sheriff Bill Leeper.
Leeper says before 7:30AM, Border Protection agents were checking out several people in a vehicle at a Gate gas station on State Road 200 near Chester Road. Nassau County deputies on scene for a previous call were asked to standby and assist. Leeper says one of the suspects took off on foot, and two deputies pursued.
The suspect crossed SR 200, and we’re told 32-year-old Deputy Eric Oliver was hit and killed while chasing the suspect.
“He was just doing his job, and doing it well,” Leeper says.
The Florida Highway Patrol is actively investigating the crash, but Leeper says it doesn’t appear there was much the female driver could have done to avoid Oliver. That driver stayed on scene and is cooperating.
“We want to make sure that we’re covering all the bases- we’re documenting all the necessary evidence and gaining as much information as possible to conduct a thorough and complete investigation,” says FHP Sergeant Dylan Bryan.
The FHP report we’ve obtained says charges against the driver are pending further investigation. Law enforcement has identified the driver, but WOKV has chosen not to name her pending the determination on charges.
Investigators are still looking for the person who fled the truck, who is described as a Hispanic male in blue jeans. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s aerial unit is assisting in the search, and canines are also on scene. We’re working to get surveillance of the suspect- who is not considered dangerous- and will update you as that comes in.
WOKV has reached out to US Customs and Border Protection about why the people were being investigated. We’re told at least three of them were in the country illegally.
You’re urged to avoid the North Hampton area while the investigation is ongoing. Bryan says any charges against the outstanding suspect will be determined pending the ongoing investigation.
Oliver has been with NCSO more than seven years and was a Navy veteran. He leaves behind a six-year-old daughter, and Leeper says it was very difficult to tell the family what happened.
“It’s very tragic, very sad. We told them that he died doing what he loved to do. He was a good police officer, he worked hard, he dedicated his life to protecting our county, and he’ll certainly be missed,” Leeper says.
If you witnessed the crash or believe you have seen the outstanding suspect, you’re asked to contact FHP or NCSO.
NCSO has had six deputies killed in the line of duty since it was founded in 1827.
Oliver’s remains were escorted to the Oxley Heard Funeral Home in Fernandina Beach around 3PM. Many people and law enforcement officers lined areas of State Road 200 from I95 to the Funeral Home to show support.
Florida Governor Rick Scott released the following statement on Deputy Oliver’s death:
“Ann and I are deeply saddened of the by the death of Deputy Eric Oliver and we join all Floridians in mourning this tragic loss. Deputy Oliver was not only a proud member of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office but also a Navy veteran and a loving father and husband. Our prayers and deepest condolences are with his family. The brave men and women of law enforcement choose to dedicate their lives every day to keep our communities safe and we owe them our sincerest gratitude for all they do. We will forever honor the service, courage and sacrifice of Deputy Oliver and pray that his family and loved ones find peace and healing during this very difficult time.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi released the following statement on Deputy Oliver’s death:
“My deepest condolences are with Deputy Eric Oliver’s family, friends and fellow officers as they mourn the tragic loss of their loved one. I am eternally grateful for Deputy Oliver’s courage and dedication to serving our country as a Navy veteran and our state as a Nassau County Sheriff’s Deputy.”