ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A central Georgia sheriff responding to a call for service was killed when his car went off the road, hit a tree and overturned, authorities said.
Wilcox County Sheriff Robert Rodgers died Tuesday afternoon after the crash on Highway 233, north of Rochelle and about 75 miles south of Macon, Coroner Janice Brown told WGXA-TV.
Rodgers, 52, has been sheriff in Wilcox County since 2016.
“He gave his life while protecting the citizens of Wilcox County, which is what he loved best,” Maj. Mitchell Thompson said on Facebook.
Lenny Brown, a friend of Rodgers, told WMAZ-TV that he had spoken with him just last week.
“Just a terrible tragedy,” he said of Rodgers’ death. “This whole county’s going to mourn a long time over this.”
He described Rodgers as the “best sheriff you could ask for.”
“He helped everybody. He helped people that weren’t even from here,” Brown said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Instead of flowers, Rodgers’ family asks that donations be made to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes Foundation in McDonough, Thompson said.
Meanwhile, Thompson said agencies are helping the sheriff’s office with answering daily calls as they “mourn the loss of their beloved leader and friend.”
Law enforcement agencies posted condolences on Facebook as did the Wilcox County School system.
“Please remember the family of Sheriff Robert Rodgers and the Wilcox County Georgia Sheriff’s Office in your prayers,” the school system posted. “Robert was a diligent servant to our county and a huge supporter of the school system. He will be greatly missed!”
Rodgers is the second member of the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office to be killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks law enforcement deaths. A deputy sheriff was shot to death in 1965.
He is the third Georgia law enforcement member to die in the line of duty this year, according to the Officer Down site.
The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash. Details on the cause have not yet been released.