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Hero Down: Rabun County Detention Officer Courtney Zajdowicz Killed By Impaired Driver

Clayton, GA – Rabun County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) Detention Officer Courtney Faith Zajdowicz died on Sept. 1 after she was hit by an impaired driver while she was heading to work, according to police.

The 26-year-old detention officer was on her way to work her shift that evening when 41-year-old Jaime Avila-Reyes crossed over the centerline on Georgia 441 and slammed into her southbound pickup truck, Now Habersham reported.

Detention Officer Zajdowicz died from her injuries.

“During the investigation, the at-fault driver was determined to be under the influence,” Georgia State Patrol Post 7 Commander Donnie Sadler told Now Habersham.

Avila-Reyes was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville in stable condition.

He has been charged with first-degree vehicular homicide and DUI, Now Habersham reported.

Additional charges may be forthcoming, Commander Sadler noted.

Detention Officer Zajdowicz originally worked for the RCSO from 2018 until 2020, Now Habersham reported.

After serving at the Alto State Prison, she returned to the RCSO as a supervisor in July, Rabun County Chief Deputy Scott Cheek told the paper.

She was taking online classes at the time of her death in order to become an emergency medical technician.

“Courtney would light up a room, eager to get to work and would always make a positive impact on those around her,” Chief Deputy Cheek told Now Habersham.

He said the RCOS will be retiring badge number 537 in her honor.

Sheriff Chad Nichols said Detention Officer Zajdowicz died in a crash that “should have never occurred,” WXIA reported.

“The next few days will be difficult for many, and our hearts will be heavy,” Sheriff Nichols said. “We ask that you keep her family and her family of blue in your thoughts and prayers during this time.”

He described Detention Officer Zajdowicz as being a “super friendly person with an incredible personality.”

She had a contagious smile and always brought “laughter to everyone around her,” the sheriff added.

Detention Officer Zajdowicz leaves behind her parents, as well as her brother, grandparents, and many close friends, according to her obituary.

She was laid to rest on Sept. 11.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family Rabun County Sheriff’s Office Detention Officer Courtney Faith Zajdowicz, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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