LAVACA, Ark. (KFSM)-Sebastian Co. deputy Terry Johnson died of injuries he sustained in a single-car accident while on patrol Saturday morning in Lavaca.
Johnson, a patrol corporal who had been with the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office since 1996, died at approximately 12:42 p.m. in the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, the Sheriff's Office said in a release Saturday. The accident happened at approximately 4:20 a.m. on Highway 96 near a pizza restaurant in Lavaca.
Sebastian Co. Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said Johnson was a ideal deputy, the kind "every sheriff would want to have work for him." Johnson had a strong work ethic, an immaculate patrol vehicle and never shied from the hazards of the job, Hollenbeck said.
His deputy's death, Hollenbeck said, was every "chief's nightmare."
A witness called 911 to say he had heard a loud crash and saw Johnson's patrol car on its side in a ditch. First responders had to use the "jaws of life" to remove Johnson from the vehicle.
"He was a prince of a gentleman," said Philip Pevehouse of the Sheriff's Department.
The Sheriff's Office said funeral arrangements are pending. Johnson's body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.
The state police is investigating the cause of the accident.