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FL deputy killed in crash was an Iraq war veteran with a wife and two small children

A police car. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The deputy who was killed in a traffic crash Sunday while on his way to a domestic violence call has been identified as Benjamin Nimtz.

Nimtz, 30, joined the Broward Sheriff’s Office on March 19, 2018.

Nimtz had just a few shifts left before he was to leave the sheriff’s office and move to Indiana for a new job, where his wife Emelie and young daughter and son were already living, Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies’ Association, said Monday.

It was shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday when Nimtz — with lights and siren activated — was hit by a speeding pickup at Military Trail and Southwest 10th Street, agency spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said.

As Nimtz was heading south through the intersection, a Toyota Tundra heading east on Southwest 10th Street slammed into his squad car.

A second deputy witnessed the crash and immediately called for help.

Nimtz was taken to Broward Health North, where he was pronounced dead.

Darran Joseph Johnson, a 32-year-old Pembroke Pines resident who was driving the pickup, was taken to Broward Health North with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Based on the preliminary investigation and the extent of damage to both vehicles, detectives believe Johnson was speeding, Coleman-Wright said Monday.

It is still too soon to say whether alcohol might have been a factor in the crash.

On Sunday, the sheriff’s office tweeted a photo showing dozens of deputies lined up outside the hospital to salute a flag-draped casket.

“This morning our hearts are heavy,” the post said. “The Broward Sheriff’s Office family is grieving the loss of a BSO deputy who died after being involved in an on-duty crash early Sunday morning. We ask for thoughts and prayers.”

By Monday morning, a memorial with a wreath and flowers was taking shape on the side of the road near the site of the fatal crash.

According to posts on Facebook and other online information, Benjamin “Benji” Nimtz was a Wisconsin native who graduated from Waukesha South High School in 2007. That same year, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a sergeant and team leader at Fort Carson.

In 2008, while stationed in Iraq, Nimtz sent a holiday video shout-out to his family in Waukesha through the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

During his time in the army, he traveled to Kuwait and Afghanistan and competed in wrestling competitions with other soldiers.

According to online information, Nimtz was studying at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs when he met his wife, who is from West Palm Beach.

Traffic homicide detectives will continue to investigate the cause of the crash. The investigation is expected to take several weeks.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the crash and has any information regarding the accident is urged to contact Detective Carlos De Jesus at 954-321-4842.

Staff writers Johnny Diaz and Linda Trischitta contributed to this report.


© 2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.