A Smith County Sheriff’s Office (TX) deputy died this morning after being struck by a suspected drunk driver overnight while on a traffic stop. The fatal incident happened during what was his final shift of field training.
Sheriff Larry R. Smith said the deputy was with his training officer when the back of the patrol unit was rear-ended at a moderate speed while he was standing at the back of the car, KETK reports. Smith said the deputy sustained two major head injuries and he succumbed to those injuries around 6 a.m. Friday morning surrounded by his family and law enforcement family.
The two deputies were on patrol around 11:50 p.m. Thursday and had made a traffic stop. Two occupants from that stop had been handcuffed and placed into the back of the patrol unit. One deputy was seated in the front passenger seat operating the onboard computer as well as the radio, while the second deputy was behind the patrol unit. The patrol unit’s emergency lights were activated at the time of the collision.
“The slightly injured deputy from the front passenger seat of the patrol unit exited the unit to check on the driver of the patrol unit. That deputy had been hit at a moderate speed, at best, and had been launched under the patrol unit. The slightly injured deputy removed the severely injured deputy from under the control unit and discovered that he apparently had head injuries,” says Smith.
The deputy, who was the critically injured deputy’s field training officer, called for three ambulances and a medical helicopter. The slightly injured deputy was treated at a Tyler hospital for his injuries and released. The critically injured deputy was taken to a trauma unit of a local hospital.
Smith says Texas Department of Public Safety troopers were dispatched to the scene to investigate the crash and both the driver and passenger of the 2017 Mercedes that had struck the patrol unit were taken into custody. The passenger was arrested for public intoxication and the driver was arrested initially for intoxicated intoxication assault, which will be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter.
The deputy who died of injuries sustained in the accident previously worked for two other law enforcement entities, Smith explains. He leaves behind a wife and children ages 4, 5 and 8.
“In his five or six months here, he became to be very loved by all of his cohorts and coworkers and he was doing a great job,” Smith says.