ELIZABETHTOWN — A sheriff’s deputy who was killed in a vehicle crash on Friday is the first from Bladen County to die in the line of duty in more than a decade, according to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.
Dewayne Charles Hester, 39, of Bladenboro, was killed Friday when his patrol car hit a tree on N.C. 87 while he was responding to a call of an assault in progress, authorities said. Hester had been a deputy for a little more than a year.
The last time the Sheriff’s Department lost a deputy was on Sept. 26, 2001, when James Brian Collins was killed, also in a vehicle wreck. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 41 percent of deaths of Law Enforcement officers in 2011 occured on U.S. highways.
Hester lost control of his patrol car on a sharp curve near Monroe Road at about 10 p.m., according to Sgt. J.M. Lewis of the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The vehicle ran off the right side of the road, crossed back over the highway and struck a tree on the passenger side, Lewis said. A wildlife officer came upon the wreck at about 10:35 p.m.
Hester is survived by his wife Tammie and two daughters, Haley and Hannah; his mother, Elfriede Juricek Hester; and two brothers, Jamie Charles and Kenneth Tomas Hester.
“Dewayne was one that, if he was asked to do something, he did it and he did it well,” sheriff’s Capt. Rodney Hester told the Bladen Journal. “He was the total package, law enforcement- and family-wise. He was just a good guy who knew the Lord and had everything going for him.
“The Sheriff’s Office will never be the same without Dewayne,” he said. “We won’t ever be able to replace him.”
The two Hesters were not related.
“I think that some of our deputies had worked with him, and from what I’ve understood he was an excellent law enforcement officer and a fine person,” said Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey. “Its a tragedy that it happened; it’s so sad. My condolences go out to the family, to the sheriff of Bladen County and the deputies of Bladen County.”
Before becoming a sheriff’s deputy, Hester served as an Elizabethtown police officer for about four years.
“He did things over, above and beyond what was required of him,” Elizabethtown Police Chief Bobby Kinlaw told the Fayetteville Observer. “I don’t know what other word to use other than ‘compassion.’ He just had compassion for his fellow man and other people.”
Visitation will be today from 6 to 9 p.m. at Hickory Family Life Center. The funeral will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Hickory Family Life Center. Burial will follow at the Oak Grove Church Cemetery.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Hester family can mail it to: P.O. Box 396, Elizabethtown, N.C. 28337, or drop it off at the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.