The Polk County Sheriff's Office is deeply saddened by the loss of a 15-year veteran with the agency, Sergeant Wesley Richard Whitmore, Jr.
Sgt. Whitmore was conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle which had an expired tag that he noticed while driving southbound on Spirit Lake Road just before 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 12, 2010. Sgt. Whitmore followed the car into the 7-11 convenience store parking lot, located at the intersection of Spirit Lake Road and Recker Hwy, and had just exited his patrol car with his ticket book in hand when an out-of-control Cadillac Escalade careened into him.
Prior to striking Sgt. Whitmore's patrol car, the SUV first struck Ms. Wanda Perez, of Wanda's Collectibles, swiped the corner of her business, and then crashed into the rear passenger quarter panel of Sgt. Whitmore's patrol car. The collision caused the patrol car to crash into Sgt. Whitmore, fatally injuring him.
Eyewitnesses immediately came to Sgt. Whitmore's aid, followed shortly thereafter by deputies, firefighters, and EMS. However, Sgt. Whitmore's injuries were too significant, and he was pronounced deceased at Winter Haven Hospital.
Sgt. Whitmore retired as a Major from the United States Air Force after 26 years of service, before joining PCSO as a detention deputy in 1995. He transferred to deputy sheriff in 1998, and was promoted to Sergeant in 2008. He was most recently assigned as a supervisor on Central District Bravo platoon. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, their four adult children, and ten grandchildren.
"Our hearts are broken as we mourn the loss of this great leader and great friend," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "Wes was the perfect example of the kind of deputy, and the kind of supervisor, we look for. Please keep the Whitmore family, and the PCSO family, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."