Trooper Patrick Ambroise Florida Highway Patrol

Photograph: Trooper Patrick Ambroise Patch image: Florida Highway Patrol, Florida

Trooper Patrick Ambroise
Florida Highway Patrol

End of Watch: Saturday, May 15, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: 35
Tour of Duty: 4 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: Saturday, May 15, 2010
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Trooper Patrick Ambroise was killed when his patrol car was struck from behind while he was stopped on the shoulder of the Florida Turnpike, near Okeechobee Road.
A vehicle traveling on the turnpike suddenly veered onto the shoulder and struck Trooper Ambroise’s 2006 Crown Vic from behind, causing it to burst into flames, and trapping him inside.
The driver of the vehicle that caused the crash was seriously injured.
Trooper Ambroise had served with the Florida Highway Patrol for four years. He is survived by his wife, two young daughters, mother, and five siblings.

Agency Contact Information
Florida Highway Patrol
Neil Kirkman Building
2900 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: (850) 617-2301
Please contact the Florida Highway Patrol for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

Members of Florida Highway Patrol Troop K came together Monday to pay tribute to Trooper Patrick Ambroise, who died Saturday in a fiery car crash that has raised questions about the driver that hit him and the safety of the trooper’s police cruiser.

The troopers wore black bands over their badges, lowered the flag at Miami FHP headquarters in West Miami-Dade to half-staff and spoke about the colleague and friend they had come to know over the past four years.

“Anytime we lose a member of this family, it quite naturally is going to affect us,”FHP commanding officer Sammy Thomas said. “We take these highways personal. We work everyday and put our lives on the line to protect the public and that’s what Patrick did.”

Thomas focused on honoring Ambroise’s memory, describing him as a dedicated and godly man who would “give you the shirt off his back.” Troopers declined to comment on the investigation into the crash, which happened Saturday evening near the Okeechobee Road toll plaza on Florida’s Turnpike.

Ambroise was sitting in his parked cruiser when a black Lexus veered from the northbound lane onto the shoulder, slamming into the rear of Ambroise’s 2006 Crown Victoria. The car burst into flames, trapping the trooper inside.

The driver of the Lexus has been identified as Jonathan Robert Garcia, 19, of Miramar. Garcia, who was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center with serious injuries, is in fair condition Monday. FHP said no charges have been filed as the investigation continues.

Garcia, a college student, appears to have a clean driving record in Florida.

Part of the probe is whether Garcia was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whether he was distracted by cellphone use and whether he fell asleep at the wheel.

The model of Ambroise’s vehicle, the Crown Victoria, often used in police work, has come under heavy scrutiny in the past for being involved in crashes with fatal fires.

Critics of the car say the location of the gas tank, behind the rear axle, makes it more prone to catch fire in a rear-end crash. In 2005, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer sent a letter to Ford, asking the company to conduct a “major design overhaul” of the Crown Victoria, after a cab driver was killed in a fiery rear-end car crash.

Ford made a set of gas-tank shields available for police cruisers in 2003, but it’s not clear whether or not Ambroise’s Crown Victoria had been retrofitted to address the fuel tank issue.

Ambroise’s death is the first of a Florida trooper since January 2007, when FHP Sgt. Nicholas Sottile was shot to death by a suspect after a traffic stop in Highlands County.

Ambroise, a graduate of Miami Edison High who lived in Miramar at the time of his death, began his career with FHP in January 2006. He was assigned to Troop K in Miami upon graduation. He served there ever since.

On Sunday, at Ambroise’s childhood home in Little Haiti where his mother still lives, cars piled up outside as a steady stream of family and friends came to pay their respects.

“We are a very close, tight family,” said Eddy Colas, a cousin. “It’s a very sad situation for all of us. We’re just trying to hang together.”

Funeral arrangements are being finalized.

He leaves behind a wife and two daughters who are 5 years and 3 months old.

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