Corporal Terry Johnson with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department has died as a result of injuries sustained in a one-car accident early Saturday morning. He was 48.
The department received a report of a car being off the road and in a ditch on Arkansas 96 in Lavaca. It was soon learned that the car was the patrol car driven by Johnson.
Deputies and first responders rushed to the scene, where Johnson was removed from the patrol vehicle using the “jaws of life.”
He was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith.
“The staff at Mercy did all they could to save the life of Corporal Johnson, but at around 12: 42 pm Corporal Johnson passed away in the ICU of Mercy Hospital,” noted the Sheriff’s department statement.
Johnson started with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office in July of 1996 as a detention deputy. Johnson worked his way up in the Detention Center and rose to the patrol division. In January 2012 Johnson was promoted to the rank of patrol corporal.
“Corporal Johnson will be missed by his family, his friends, and his department. Corporal Johnson was a hard worker and greatly respected by all of the citizens of Sebastian County,” according to the statement.
Johnson’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy. The single vehicle accident is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police. Funeral arrangements are pending.
During a recent interview, Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said one of the most pleasant surprises of his time in office is the quality and dedication of department employees. He praised the staff – many of which he says are underpaid – for adapting and accepting new ideas. One of those ideas has been “integrity training,” with part of that being a focus on improving the relationship between department officers and people detained.
Hollenbeck said county residents should be proud of the department.
“We just really have a good group of deputies and all they want to do is serve the public,” he said.