Polk County Sheriff's Office: Pedestrian killed after being hit by patrol car

Thomas Morrison, 44, was hit and killed Tuesday night after walking in front of a Polk County deputy’s car, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the crash occurred around 8 p.m. on U.S. 98, south of Old Eagle Lake Bartow Road.

According to the PCSO, a deputy was driving northbound on U.S. 98. He was not in emergency mode, which means he did not have lights or sirens on. A witness said the deputy did not appear to be speeding when Morrison ran into the roadway and into the path of the deputy’s car.

The area where Morrison was crossing is not a marked crosswalk, and the two nearest street lights were not illuminated. Morrison was also wearing dark clothing, according to PCSO. 

PCSO said the deputy swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid hitting Morrison, but the right portion of the push-bumper struck the man. The deputy immediately notified dispatch of the crash and began to help Morrison.

Morrison was taken to Bartow Regional Medical Center, where he died from his injuries. 

Earlier in the day, traffic homicide detectives learned that the Bartow Police Department had been notified that a white male wearing dark clothing was walking in and out of traffic near the 100 block of Highway 17. Officers made contact with the man and he was identified as Morrison.

Morrison was in the Polk County jail between July and August 2019 and between December 2019 and January 2020 for violation of probation. Both times, he was placed on suicide watch, according to the PCSO.

PSCO said there is no evidence at this point in the investigation that excessive speeding or distracted driving played a role in the crash.

The crash remained under investigation.