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Crash kills a deputy, injures another while transporting an inmate, Texas sheriff says

Posted at 9:41 AM, Feb 22, 2024

CONROE, Texas (AP) — Two Texas deputies transporting an inmate were involved in a multi-vehicle crash that began when their SUV collided with a truck and careened into oncoming traffic. One deputy was ejected and killed, while the driver and inmate were injured, a Texas Department of Public Safety official said Thursday. Deputy Charles Rivette died in the crash about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate 45 near Centerville in Leon County, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Houston, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson. Deputy James Francis was hospitalized in stable condition while the inmate, whose name was not released, was in critical condition, Henderson said. “We're hurting right now, this is the first line of duty death that we have had since 1876,” said Henderson, who made grief counselors and chaplains available to his staff and their families. “We're still trying to figure out how to deal with it, how to cope with this.” Henderson said the inmate was being transported from Oklahoma to face a felony charge of driving under the influence. A preliminary investigation found the SUV carrying the deputies and inmate hit a southbound semi that was not pulling a trailer, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Justin Ruiz said. The SUV then came to rest in the northbound lanes, and Rivette was ejected onto the pavement. Rivette was then struck by a northbound pickup truck and the SUV was hit by two northbound tractor-trailer rigs, Ruiz said. The speed limit in the area is 75 mph (121 kph), but Ruiz declined to say whether speed contributed to the collision, saying that is part of the investigation. Henderson said Rivette was an 18-year veteran deputy whose son works as a jailer at the sheriff's office, and Francis is a 14-year veteran.