Published on Friday, July 13, 2007
in the WJXT News
Three Men Died In FHP Plane Crash
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Three Florida Highway Patrol troopers who died in a 1981 plane crash in St. Augustine were added the St. Johns County Law Enforcement Memorial on Friday.
Troopers Merle J. Cooke, Robert Pruitt and Cpl. C.L. Tomlinson were killed when their FHP Cessna aircraft crashed just south of the Ponce Mall on July 13, 1981.
The three men were providing aerial support for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office by directing deputies to a burglary suspect.
After the suspect was seen entering the mall and shots were fired, the aircraft circled until it crashed.
Within minutes of the crash, Mack Daniel Mims was taken into custody and charged with six counts of burglary to a dwelling and three counts of felony homicide in connection with the death of the troopers.
Mims was later sentenced to 15 years in prison and remains in prison serving a two-year sentence on a conviction of burglary and cocaine possession.
Several days after the crash, the St. Johns County Commission adopted a resolution honoring the memory of the three troopers and declaring that July 13 would be recognized as Florida Highway Patrol Appreciation Day.
The three troopers were added to the nine original deputies who are memorialized in front of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. The courtyard contains a fountain that rests on a patio of bricks that are a tribute to those killed in the line of duty.
An outdoor kiosk on the site also allows visitors to hear an audio presentation each of the officers memorialized.
Family members of the troopers attended Friday's ceremony, along with St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar, FHP Director Col. Chris Knight and the executive director of the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Electra Bustle.