• If you log in, the ads disappear in the forum and gallery. If you need help logging in or getting registered, send request to: webmaster@southernairboat.com

FWCC Officer Killed in Everglades



http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/ ... 8019.story

South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Florida Conservation officer killed in ATV crash

By Macollvie Jean-François

October 28, 2007

An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission died on duty after her all-terrain vehicle crashed in a remote part of the Everglades and trapped her underneath, authorities said Sunday.

Officer Michelle A. Lawless, 47, was on routine patrol when the crash occurred late Saturday in the Holeyland/Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area, 30 to 40 miles west of U.S. 27 east toll, FWC spokesman Officer Jorge Pino said. She was on patrol for poachers and other vagrants who often target alligators and deer at night, Pino said.

"It's somewhat alarming to see this occur," said Pino, who graduated from the academy with Lawless. "She knew that area like the back of her hand."

The Florida Highway Patrol investigators said Lawless struck a metal gate, was ejected from the ATV and the vehicle overturned, trapping her underneath.

Pino said Lawless, a 5-year-veteran, last had contact with FWC's dispatch about 7:20 p.m. while working in the northwest corner of the management area near the L5 Canal and the Palm Beach county line.

Later in the evening, she did not respond to a routine check of the officers' locations and duties via radio, Pino said. Another officer became concerned and went searching for her. The officer found her ATV, then an unresponsive Lawless around 9:30 p.m, FHP said.

Efforts to revive her at the scene were not successful, Pino said. A rescue helicopter took her to the Delray Medical Center, where she died.

"Nothing at this time would indicate there is foul play, but that may change," Pino said.

Lawless' career with the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement began on May 25, 2003. After completing the FWC academy, she was assigned to Broward County where she worked until her death.

"Michelle was a diligent, accomplished officer who died doing what she did so well, protecting Florida's natural resources," said Major Brett Norton, commander of law enforcement for the region. "This is a painful loss to the entire agency, her family and friends."

Lawless, who lived in North Miami, is survived by her parents, Tom and April Lawless.
yeah my dads friend just called him and told us sad thing she had stopped us one time when we backed our airboat into 3a north to check us when we were going skeet shooting sad to hear.
we were being inspected on Lake O that night when the call when out...we heard it on their radios. She was a pretty cool girl.
Had the pleasure of meeting her 3 times. The first time started out real bad for me, only because I was 100% in the wrong, and boy did she let me know it, but when she realized I was just going to take whatever she was going to give me she eased up and let me off with a warning. The second time we were at Camp 5 and she pulled up and she remembered our first encounter and we laughed about it for awile. As she was going to leave I asked her if she would be joining us for the races later on in the day and she just smiled and left. The third time was in Cooper City at one of the parks that has burrowing owl nests that she was checking out, I stopped her to get the new regulation pamphlet, she was really cool, hung out for awile talking to my kids telling them about the burrowing owls and she answered all there questions. She was one of the good ones. She will be missed.

I was gator huntin STA 5 Sat night noticed an atv officer ridin just on the east side of the easterly canal. headin south shinin the Q beam along the canal the atv continued south another half mile or so then I noticed its blue lights on. So we headed south toward them but were still on the other side of the canal shined my Q beam to see exactly who it was but couldnt really tell didnt want to shine em right in the face from such a short distance. So I headed away from there and continued gator huntin Those blues stayed on in the same spot for probably an hour. We got our gator and left . It may have been the officer that was searching for her I dont know but That spot is the NW corner of Holylands. I left at about 10:00 10:30 but never saw a chopper. Maybe had nothing to do with it just seemed coincidental.
Got checked by Off. Lawless at Sawgrass park ramp to 2a.. Everything was ok except for the hull not being numbered, I had the rudders numbered instead. She was very polite and just gave us a warning. What a tragic event. Line of duty deaths have a tremendous impact across all lines.
It truly saddens me when I hear of a fellow Law Enforcement officer dieing in the line off duty and she surely sounded like she was a good one