Hero Down: Clay County Deputy Ben Zirbel Succumbs To On-Duty Injuries

Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Zirbel died in the line of duty on Tuesday night after being hit on his motorcycle.

Green Cove Springs, FL Clay County Sheriffs Deputy Ben Zirbel died in the line of duty late Tuesday night, nearly three days after a vehicle pulling a tractor trailer crashed into him as he was riding his motorcycle on patrol, Sheriff Darryl Daniels announced on Wednesday.

Its very unfortunate that I have a guy whos traveling down the street, enforcing traffic laws, and fell victim to the very violation of those laws that he was sworn to enforce, Sheriff Daniels said during a press conference.

It hurts to know that your brother, your coworker, is gone its a brotherhood. Its a family in law enforcement,the sheriff added.

The crash occurred just before 11 a.m. on Sunday, while 40-year-old Deputy Zirbel was traveling southbound in the center lane of Blanding Boulevard, WJXX reported.

The unnamed driver of a Dodge pickup pulling a lawn trailer failed to yield to the deputy, and pulled into traffic to make a left-hand turn.

The driver slammed into Deputy Zirbel, and ejected him off of his motorcycle and onto the street.

I dont know what the other driver was doing, and Im not one to blame fault on anybody, but when I got a guy, a son of Clay County, whos driving down the street in a straight line, and somebody fails to yield, or was distracted, or whatever he was doing that precluded him from seeing a vehicle that was traveling in his path, then, you know, I take that personally, Sheriff Daniels said during the press conference.

Deputy Zirbel, a 12-year veteran of the force, was rushed to the Orange Park Medical Center in critical condition, where he later succumbed to his injuries, WJXX reported.

If people wonder why we take the stance that we take on violations of the law, people wonder why were out here enforcing traffic laws, its because things happen, Sheriff Daniels told reporters. Its because when you violate those laws, people can lose their lives. And unfortunately, in this instance, it was a member of the Clay County Sheriffs Office.

Deputy Zirbel loved being a motorcycle officer, and was a good man, the sheriff said.

We know that life is so short its but a vapor its so fleeting, he said.

Sheriff Daniels vowed that Deputy Zirbels tragic death would also lead to meaningful change.

His memory will not be forgotten, and him falling in the line of duty will not be in vain, the sheriff said. Because if its the last thing I do, I will ensure that the Clay County Sheriffs Office is represented at the table with the legislators to ensure that distracted driving and texting while driving is made a primary offense in this state.

Deputy Zirbel leaves behind his wife, Anna, and their 8-year-old son, both of whom will always be members of the Clay County Sheriffs Office, Sheriff Daniels said.

During the press conference, Anna spoke of her husbands passion for helping others.

Even now, in this moment of our most painful grief, I am happy to say that Ben is still helping people, she said. Ben was a registered organ donor, and it gives me some comfort to say that, with his death, he may be helping to save the lives of at least seven other individuals. He may also possibly be helping up to 100 more people with the gift of tissue.

We never know whats coming next in life, so dont take a single day for granted, the grieving widow continued. We will always miss him, but we know that his kindness and his big heart will live within all of us.

A fundraising account established to assist Deputy Zirbels family in the wake of their loss had raised more than $16,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Clay County Sheriffs Deputy Zirbel, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy Ben Zirbel, your life mattered.

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My thoughts and prayers for Deputy Zirbel's Son and wife...You left a great legacy of service before and after death. Your community lost a gem and you will be remembered and your life mattered. Gone too soon, forever cherished in the hearts of those who loved you.


RIP God bless the family


Praying for Deputy Zirbel's family, fellow officers, & friends. A tragedy that never should have happened. Far too many distracted drivers on our roads these days. When you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, turn off everything in your vehicle that can distract you! That includes phone, radio, TVs (wouldn't believe how many drivers I see in MN who are driving 80 mph down the highway (in a 60 zone) while watching a movie on their portable DVD player!!! You can only do one thing at a time, folks!


People just don't pay attention while driving and this is the bad side of what can happen you don't...R.I.P. Deputy Zirbel!


RIP Sir, gone but never forgotten. Thank you for your service, dedication and loyalty. Fly with the Angels, your brothers and sisters in blue will take it from here! Prayers to you blue and blood families 🙏😢 🕊💜👮🚔🙏😇🇺🇸