Veteran Jacksonville sheriff’s deputy dies in SR 26 crash


Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 2:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 2:42 p.m.

A 30-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office died Tuesday afternoon in Alachua County after his truck hit an SUV in an accident that sent both vehicles spinning on State Road 26 near the U.S. 301 overpass.

Michael Pickering, 52, of Keystone Heights, was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital after the accident, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Pickering had worked as an officer at JSO for 30 years before retiring last year, according to the agency's website.

His wife, Diane Pickering, is the Clay County Sheriff's Office director of communications and has been with the CCSO for nearly 20.

"He was more than a great husband. He was a great Dad, son, brother, grandfather, friend … and an awesome police officer," she said in a CCSO press release. "Michael loved his family, his Gators and loved his motorcycle."

Pickering was driving his 2000 Chevy S-10 pickup west on SR 26 near Orange Heights around 2:45 p.m. while James Means, 73, of Earleton, was traveling southeast in his 1997 Chevy SUV on the old SR 26 access road, the report said.

After Means stopped at a stop sign, he traveled onto SR 26 and into the path of Pickering's pickup. The pickup struck the SUV's left side with its front section, which sent the vehicles spinning, the report said.

Both vehicles came to rest on the eastbound lanes of SR 26. Means and his passenger, Joshua Niebaum, 35, of Hawthorne, and Pickering's passenger, Aleece Pickering, 10, of Keystone Heights, were taken to Shands with serious injuries, the report said.

Pickering's funeral will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Williams Catholic Church, 210 SW Peach St. in Keystone Heights. A gravesite service will follow at the Keystone Heights Cemetery on State Road 100.

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