RIESEL, Texas (KWTX) A Falls County deputy died and Riesel police Chief Danny Krumnow was seriously injured when a car struck them Friday afternoon while they were assisting a motorist whose car evidently slid off State Highway 6 just south of Riesel.
The deputy, who died at the scene, was identified as Matt Jones by Falls County Sheriff Ricky Scaman. Jones, a K-9 deputy handler, had been with the sheriff's office four years.
"Mere words cannot express the loss we feel in our hearts, " said Scaman, "We have lost a brother, a friend, a husband, and a servant of our community. And with that, we mourn."
The deputy's K-9 partner, Thor, was not injured during the wreck, Scaman said. The K-9 is now with Jones' family.
Krumnow was flown to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco in critical condition. He was later flown to Scott and White Hospital in Temple, where he underwent surgery to remove his spleen.
Sgt. Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police Department said Krumnow is stable. The Riesel police chief suffered a dislocated knee, eight to nine broken ribs, and a lacerated spleen, Swanton said.
"His family is with him and they thank everyone who has expressed their thoughts and concerns," Swanton said, "The Krumnow family is heartbroken by today’s incident and their thoughts are also with the family of Deputy Matt Jones, his family, and the Falls County Sheriff's Office."
A procession of law enforcement officers escorted Jones' body to Mesquite, Texas. The McLennan County Sheriff's Office tells News 10 an autopsy will be performed at American Forensics.
“This is a tragic situation for everybody,” said Department of Public Safety Sergeant Ryan Howard.
“It hits close to home,” Howard said. “I just lost a brother in the line of duty.”
Krumnow and Jones were assisting the driver just before 2 p.m. at State Highway 6 and County Road 109 south of Riesel when they were struck by a Mazda sedan that hydroplaned, Howard said.
The driver of the Mazda was also injured and was taken to a local hospital, Howard said, but he had no further details.
Brennen May, a nearby resident, heard the crash from his home.
"I heard tires screeching and ran outside," he said.
May also added that cars hydroplaning around that stretch or road is common.
"If it rains someone will have an accident every time it rains at least once or twice," May said.
All four lanes of the highway were closed for hours while police investigated the wreck. All lanes were reopened shortly after 6 p.m.
More than 46 years has passed since the last time a Falls County deputy died in the line of duty.
On Aug. 21, 1973, Deputies Elbert Watkins and Dean Humphus were shot to death while trying to serve a commitment order.
But the deputy is the third Falls County law enforcement officer to die in the past four years.
Marlin police Chief Darrell Allen, who was shot and critically wounded during a struggle with a man on Nov. 1, 2015, while working security at a bar in Temple died Nov. 10, 2015 at Scott & White Hospital in Temple where he’d been in critical condition since the shooting.
Nathan Sodek, who was named Marlin’s police chief in October 2018, shot himself to death on Aug. 23 as Texas Rangers arrived at his home in Bruceville-Eddy to serve warrants charging sexual assault and official oppression.
The death of the deputy Friday was the first line-of-duty law enforcement death since November 2017 in Central Texas.
Senior DPS Trooper Thomas Nipper, 63, was killed on Nov. 4, 2017 when a pickup crashed into his patrol car during a traffic stop on Interstate 35 in Temple.
Trooper Damon Allen, 41, was shot to death on Nov. 23, 2017, after a traffic stop on Interstate 45 near Fairfield.
(John Carroll, Drake Lawson and Rissa Shaw contributed to this story)