A 17-year veteran with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office died in a crash Tuesday morning.
Officer Lance C. Whitaker, 48, was responding to a call about a separate traffic crash near I-295 and Alta Drive around 4:30 a.m. when he got into a single-vehicle wreck. He reportedly crashed into a tree. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
First Coast News learned that Whitaker was hired by JSO in June 2002. Prior to joining JSO, he worked for the Atlantic Beach Police Department for about 3.5 years.
"He's been on the agency for awhile," said Steve Zone, the president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police. "He's a policeman's policeman."
Most don't know, but Whitaker was also on an episode of cops in 2004. He appeared on Season 16, Episode 35 titled "Hit and Run."
During his entire career with JSO, Whitaker worked the night shift. JSO said he was recently assigned to the Zone 6 midnight shift on the Northside.
One of his former partners told First Coast News that he loved working the night shift. Most of his career was spent patrolling Zone 5 of Jacksonville, which is one of the highest crime areas of the city.
JSO announced that a memorial has been set up for Whitaker at the Fallen Officers Memorial in front of the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, 300 A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, and it's open to the public.
"We all lose a part of ourselves, a part of our soul, a part of our family is gone forever," Zone said.
Whitaker is survived by his 14-year-old son, Cade.
Stay with First Coast News as this story develops.