Off-duty Lake County sheriff’s deputy killed in early morning head-on crash

Lake County sheriff’s Dep. Herbert ‘Bert’ Cole

An off-duty Lake County sheriff’s detention deputy was killed in a head-on collision early Saturday morning.

Herbert “Bert” Cole, 40, of Umatilla, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on County Road 439 near Mill Creek Road. Cole was traveling north on CR 439 around 6:45 a.m. when his 2017 Chevy Cruse collided head-on with a 1994 GMC pickup driven by 18-year-old Tyler Cassell after the pickup crossed the centerline of the roadway, a Florida Highway Patrol report states.

Cassell, of Tavares, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from his pickup, which caught fire after the crash. He was transported to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford with serious injuries, the report says.

The crash remains under investigation and it hasn’t been determined if alcohol played a factor. Cole had been wearing his seatbelt, the report says.

A post on the Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page announced the death of Cole, who was heading home from his shift when the crash occurred Saturday. The law enforcement agency asked that area residents please keep his family and those he worked with in the sheriff’s office in their thoughts and prayers.