Lakeland Police Officer Paul Dunn, 50, died this morning when he hit a concrete median and lost control of his department-issued motorcycle on Lakeland Highlands Road near Lake Miriam Drive, according to the Polk Sheriff’s Office.
Dunn was driving the Harley Davidson Police Road King motorcycle to work northbound on Lakeland Highlands around 5:45 a.m. when the accident occurred, deputies said. The accident happened just south of Lake Miriam Drive along the median separating northbound and southbound traffic. The motorcycle came to rest in the northbound lanes.
Officer Dunn was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:53 a.m., according to deputies.
VIDEO: News conference with Sheriff Judd and Chief Garcia:
Traffic homicide investigators are trying to determine what caused the accident, Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference this morning. “Common sense would dictate that he was driving in the lane of travel and some other vehicle forced him off the roadway, but we don’t have any evidence at all to prove that at this point in the investigation,” he added.
Lakeland Highlands Road remained closed to traffic between Lake Miriam Drive and Clubhouse Road at 1:45 p.m.
Dunn, a former Marine, worked in traffic enforcement; he has been with LPD since 2013, and worked with the Polk Sheriff’s Office for 12 years before that, Chief Ruben Garcia said.
He was on his way this morning to a monthly training session for his unit, the chief said.
Immediately after the accident, several drivers stopped, including Laura Lewis, a nurse practitioner, who initiated CPR, Judd said. “She said the officer had a faint pulse that went to no pulse at all,” Judd said, quoting Madeline Sinclair, a deputy’s wife who was the first to stop at the scene.
Sinclair crested a hill while driving northbound on Lakeland Hills Boulevard and saw the motorcycle’s flashing lights and the officer in the roadway, Judd said. She saw no other vehicles except a northbound car next to her that did not stop, he said.
The Harley’s flashers come on automatically “when it goes down,” Judd said.
“I would like to give a word of thanks to the citizens that stopped and did all they could to help and to our hospital staff that certainly took every tactic known to them to keep our officer alive,” Garcia said during the news conference. “This is a huge loss to the department and the community.”
Dunn is married to an LPD detective and they have three adult children, two of them in the military, Garcia said.
The Sheriff’s Office traffic homicide team worked the crash since it happened outside city limits, Judd said.