2008-05-07 / Community

Decatur sheriff's deputy killed in crash

By: BRENNAN LEATHERS, News Writer - Post Searchlight

A Decatur County sheriff's deputy was killed Thursday morning when he accidentally crashed his patrol car while responding to an emergency dispatch, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Robert Griffin, who had been with the Sheriff's Officesince 2005, was killed Thursday, May 1, when his patrol car ran off Brinson Airbase Road in northeast Decatur County and struck two oak trees, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Griffin was responding to an E-911 dispatch of a juvenile threatening suicide when the accident happened shortly before 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Major Wendell Cofer of the Sheriff's Officesaid.

Deputy Griffin was headed east on Brinson Airbase Road when he drove off the asphalt road's southern shoulder and attempted to correct his steering, sending the patrol car back across the two-lane road and off its northern shoulder, said State Trooper 1st Class J.F. Jackson with the Georgia State Patrol's Donalsonville post. Cofer said it appeared the front left of the patrol car struck a small oak tree, shattering its windshield and then struck a large oak tree on its driver's side before overturning and coming to rest.

The accident was discovered when Capt. Justin Bedwell, who had also responded to the 911 call Griffin was on his way to, became concerned when Griffin did not show up and went to look for him; someone also called E-911 to report the accident, Major Cofer said.

Capt. Bedwell and Deputy Vincent Edmonds arrived at the wreck scene and found Griffin deceased, Cofer said.

After Sheriff Wiley Griffin had visited the wreck scene, Decatur County Fire and Rescue firefightersremoved Deputy Griffin from his patrol car, and he was transported to Memorial Hospital, Cofer said.

Members of the State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team responded from Valdosta and were conducting further investigation of the wreck; however, no additional details were immediately available, TFC Jackson said.

Griffin was former Navy man; Freemason

Deputy Griffin joined the Sheriff's Officein 2005 after retiring from service in the U.S. Navy, Major Linn Harrell said.

Griffin was a Master Mason and a leader in Bainbridge's Orion Lodge No. Nine, part of the Georgia Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, a fraternal organization.

According to Major Harrell, Griffin is the first Decatur County deputy killed in the line of duty since 1981, when Deputy James West was killed by stabbing.

Cofer said he believed Griffin is survived by an ex-wife and two children. Griffin'smother is also a resident of Decatur County, according to Cofer.

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