The Monroe County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday said it has suspended an employee without pay after a "possible road rage" incident in the Upper Keys.
The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting a criminal investigation into a Monday afternoon incident involving Sever Hustad, a Middle Keys victim advocate, said sheriff's office spokesman Adam Linhardt.
Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay has also opened an internal affairs investigation.
FHP initially handled the incident as a crash, which happened at about 4:49 p.m. near mile marker 75 in Islamorada, said FHP spokeswoman Lt. Kathleen McKinney.
"As we got into the investigation, it seems like it may have been a little more serious than that," McKinney said. "It may have involved road rage."
Two vehicles, a white Ford Crown Victoria driven by Hustad and a small, red compact vehicle with two people inside, were taking turns passing each other while heading north on U.S. 1, she said. "This happened for several miles," McKinney said.
The driver of the smaller car made an attempt to pass Hustad but left the roadway and rolled over, McKinney said. Two people inside were taken to Mariners Hospital and released that evening.
"We're going to interview everybody," McKinney said of the investigation. "We're looking at everything."
Linhardt said he couldn't comment further because of the investigations, but added that Hustad was in a sheriff's office-owned vehicle.
"Hustad's employment status will be determined at the conclusion of the investigations," Linhardt said.
Hustad couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
He was hired by the sheriff's office on April 16, 1999, and earns $75,398 a year, Linhardt said.
Hustad was told of his suspension on Tuesday.
Between 1999 and 2014, Hustad was a road patrol deputy. He became a victim advocate on Nov. 1, 2014.
"This is an unfortunate case that required immediate action on my part," Ramsay said. "As always, when bad things happen in the sheriff's office, I want you to hear it from me first."