June 15, 2007
THOMSON, Ga.---It's a sad evening in Thomson as members of the community mourn the loss of a well-known deputy.
Eleven-year McDuffie County veteran Jerome Jackson died today after he fell unconscious behind the wheel of his cruiser.
We talked with one of his closest friends, Sheriff Logan Marshall, who says the force won't be the same without him.
"It's just a sad time here at McDuffie County," the sheriff said. You could hear the sadness in his voice as he fought back the tears.
"He was my friend. We had worked together a long time. Good deputy."
52-year-old Deputy Jerome Jackson died in Dearing behind the wheel of his police cruiser. It's not clear right now what happened in the moments before his death, but the Georgia State Patrol is investigating.
"Apparently he went unconscious behind the wheel of his patrol car," McDuffie County coroner Rhusha Mack. "EMS was called and they done CPR on him all the way to the hospital."
Equally troubled is the coroner, Rhusha Mack. He says that the responding medics tried to save Jackson but were not able to. He also knew Jackson personally.
"Sometimes you get a call and it's somebody that you know, and it do have an effect on you...it's just a shock," Mack said.
"You couldn't help but like him," said Jim Wallace, longtime managing editor of the McDuffie Progress. Wallace says that in the few hours since Jackson's death, the entire town has gone into mourning. He says he talked to Jackson recently and it's going to be hard for him being in Thomson and not talking with Jackson. "He was a joy to work with, and he always had...a smile and a kind word.
"Thomson is grieving," Wallace said. "The McDuffie County Sheriff's Office, the GBI, the courts, emergency room people, court people...everybody's shook up."
"My prayers go out to them, and may God be with the family," Mack said.
"We're going to miss his diligence as an officer of the law, but we're going to miss Jerome the man," Wallace said.
"My sympathies go out to his family," Sheriff Marshall said. "He was an asset to the sheriff's office...a good deputy."
Jackson leaves behind a wife, three sons, and a daughter.
An autopsy will be conducted tomorrow.
Pastors from all over the community are helping officers and family deal with this tragedy.