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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Polk deputy’s car fatally strikes pedestrian in Auburndale

A pedestrian crossing an Auburndale street died early Friday when he was hit by a marked patrol car driven by Polk County deputy, the sheriff’s office said.

Martin W. Knoetasch, 56, was struck about 6 a.m. on Havendale Boulevard at 42nd Street, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputy William Tull, 21, had just ended his shift and was on his way home at the time, the sheriff’s office said. He was not injured.

Tull was driving east on Havendale in his agency-issued 2007 Chevrolet Impala. As Tull approached 42nd Street, Knoetasch stepped into Tull’s path and was struck by the right-front of the vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.

A preliminary investigation indicated the traffic light on Havendale was green and the deputy had the right of way, the sheriff’s office said. Knoetasch, walking north, had crossed the westbound lanes and median, and was about to enter the eastbound lanes when he stepped into the car’s path, the agency said.

The intersection has street lights and several businesses nearby. Knoetasch was dressed in jeans and a medium- to dark-colored multistriped shirt, deputies said.

On June 9, Auburndale police responded to the intersection after receiving two reports of Knoetasch walking into traffic, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies said Knoetasch, who had no known address, habitually wandered into parking lots and into Havendale Boulevard asking motorists for money.

Tull, assigned to the Southwest District as a patrol deputy, was placed on paid administrative leave. The sheriff’s office said Tull was hired in February 2012 and his annual salary is $41,460.

Per sheriff’s office policy, there will be an independent review of the case. The agency’s traffic homicide unit will conduct an investigation and turn its findings over to the administrative investigations section. All findings will be reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office.

Also, the Polk medical examiner will conduct an independent investigation and autopsy in Knoetasch’s death.

Havendale was closed to traffic for about 3½ hours after the collision.

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