Sheriff: ‘Sometimes it takes tragedies to maybe wake some people up’

Local

It’s been a very difficult last few days for local law enforcement.

The community continues to mourn the death of Wichita police officer Stacy Woodson and his son from a crash Friday night.

A day later, another law enforcement official experienced a dangerous situation that sent a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputy to the hospital with a fractured hip. 

Sheriff Jeff Easter says alcohol is suspected to have been involved in both accidents. 

“In my almost 29 years in law enforcement, I haven’t seen something like this where you have, we have had off-duty officers get killed before by drunk driving,” he said. “But we haven’t had two incidents as close as they were together as these.”

The incident involving the deputy happened late Saturday night. Easter says that deputy was standing in front of his patrol vehicle on the 10500 block of East Harry.

That’s when a driver, who was allegedly intoxicated, hit the patrol car that then hit the deputy.

It’s an accident, Easter says could have ended so much worse.

“Most calls that I’ve been on, you know, you really don’t know the folks,” he said. “You feel horrible for the family. You feel horrible for the victim. But, there’s not that real personal connection when you see one of your own that is deceased.”

Easter says it’s protocol to check for driving under the influence whenever there’s a bad accident or fatality.

But he says, the best thing to do is not take a chance.

“I think it’s time that people absolutely wake up and realize that driving and drinking does not mix,” said Easter.

He says his office is investigating now to present the case to the District Attorney’s Office for possible charges.

The deputy is recovering, and it’s not certain when he’ll return to service.

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