Fritch, TX – Hutchinson County Sheriff Kirk Coker died in the line of duty on March 29, when he suffered a fatal heart attack while driving to a call.
The 57-year-old sheriff had responded to the scene of an unattended death on the night of March 29, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
While he was at the scene, he began receiving multiple calls about large gatherings that were taking place throughout the county, despite the executive order implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
After Sheriff Coker cleared the scene of the unattended death, he began heading to the location where one of the alleged gatherings was taking place, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was traveling eastbound on Highway 136 at approximately 11:50 p.m., when his 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe drifted off of the roadway and into the south ditch, KVII reported.
The vehicle barreled through a barbed wire fence, traveled across a field, and collided with a tree, but sustained only minor damage.
Investigators said that Sheriff Coker suffered a heart attack prior to the crash, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
His fellow deputies located him approximately two hours later.
Sheriff Coker was pronounced dead at the scene, KVII reported.
“He was a true leader,” Hutchinson County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Tucker told KFDA. “He was a guy that you could joke around with. He never got mad or upset, he just set a good environment. Whenever you want to work for a good boss, he’s kind of the guy you picture.”
Sheriff Coker devoted 35 years of his life to his law enforcement career – the last 12-and-one-half of which he spent serving the Hutchinson County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).
He was elected sheriff in 2016, according to KVII.
“He instilled in us to make sure family’s first, and your beliefs, but most importantly, to not forget who we work for, and we work for our community,” Hutchinson County Sheriff’s Deputy Sammy Ponce told KFDA.
“[He always told us] not to forget our ‘why.’ Why we got into this road to begin with,” Deputy Ponce added. “He was a very firm believer of helping people whenever they needed help. It didn’t matter what time it was or how in what way.”
Sheriff Coker leaves behind his wife, Tonya, as well as three sons and three daughters, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his grandchildren, brothers, and many friends and extended family members.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hutchinson County Sheriff Kirk Coker, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.