SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson spoke to the media Sunday for the first time about losing an officer in the line of duty for the first time in the department's history.
"This is indeed a sudden and tragic loss for our department," said Patterson.
Corporal Charles Nesbitt, Jr. and another officer, Master Patrolman James Cox, were on their way back to Sumter Friday after after transporting a prisoner to DJJ when they collided head-on with an SUV on Highway 521 near Rembert.
Nesbitt and Cox were taken to the hospital. Nesbitt died from trauma from the accident. Officer Cox was treated and released.
The driver of the SUV, 43-year-old Michael Grundner from Cassat, was also taken to the hospital. His injuries are still unknown.
Troopers have not released any more information about the circumstances behind the wreck.
"We have lost a peace keeper that we all loved and cared for very much." Patterson said Nesbitt was a man who was living his dream of being a police officer. "He was one of those people that helped to groom other new officers as they came to the department, helped with their professional development and was a mentor to many," said Patterson, "And we are truly going to miss him without a doubt."
"Anytime he was laughing or enjoying times with his co-workers or out there out and about doing his duties or serving the community," said Patterson. "If he was laughing and he was smiling, he just really lit up a room."
Funeral services for Corporal Nesbitt have been set for Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. at Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road (corner of Wise Drive and Loring Mill Road) in Sumter. Burial will follow at Evergreen Memorial Park located at 802 North Guignard Drive in Sumter. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Bullock Funeral Home at 1190 Wilson Hall Road in Sumter.
The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to the John K. Crosswell Home for Children, 11 Crosswell Drive, Sumter, SC 29150.
The Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash. It is unclear if any charges will be filed.