LOWNDES CO. – Hearts are heavy in South Georgia, after a deputy dies in the line of duty.
Michael Butler, 39, was killed in a fiery crash this weekend.
The Lowndes County deputy was also a husband and father of twin daughters.
“It’s just going to be hard to get over it,” says Sheriff Ashley Paulk.
Remnants of Saturday night’s accident still live on at Cat Creek Road and in people’s minds.
“He had a passion for law enforcement,” says Sheriff Paulk. “He had a passion for helping people. He left a higher paying job to come down here.”
The fatal accident happened right in front of Charles Miller’s home.
After hearing the loud noise, Miller says it wasn’t until he walked through his front yard, that he saw a mangled patrol car, and immediately went to help.
“I was calling 911 and the man was pulling the deputy out of the car,” says Miller.
He says he helped the semi driver pull Butler away from the car, before it went up in flames.
“Black smoke was coming out of it, then all the sudden, flames,” says Miller.
Many residents didn’t want to talk on camera Monday, and said they’re still in shock about what happened.
“He asked us if we would pray for the officer and we said we would,” says a resident off of Cat Creek.
They say the intersection of Norman Hall and Cat Creek Roads will never be the same.
“Someone who’s always there to help you and then something like that happens to him,” says the Cat Creek resident.
“It was traumatic for me,” adds Miller. “I can’t get his face out of my head.”
The community now mourns the loss of a deputy, family member, and friend.
“It’s the first death I’ve had and I hope to god it’s the last,” says Sheriff Paulk.
Georgia State Patrol SCRT team was at the accident scene Monday afternoon.
They say the crash is an ongoing investigation, and charges are still pending.
A Go Fund Me page was set up from the family Monday morning.
In nine hours, it has already raised nearly $13,000.
Friends of the family say it will go towards the daughter’s college funds.
You can find the Butler’s donation page HERE.